Goodness me, she’s a cute one!

April 19, 2023

We’ve got another new arrival to announce to the world and goodness me she’s a cute one!

The new sitatunga calf, who was born last Wednesday morning (12 April) was on its feet and bonding with mother Violet and father Tumnus before the zoo opened its door to guests at 10am.

Violet gave birth to her baby in the main sitatunga paddock and a short while later she made her first wobbly steps.

Adam Ford, Senior Animal Keeper, said: “A very proud moment for the giraffe team and Marwell, after a seven-month gestation both violet and the calf seem to be doing well but it is still early days.

“As the mum, Violet, has had a calf previously we have no doubt that she is going to be amazing.

“Keepers reported seeing Tumnus also grooming the calf something that is not too uncommon but still nice to see that dad is also doing his duties and being attentive.

“It’s natural for the mum to leave the calf in long grass and keep returning throughout the day, so If you see the calf on its own it is perfectly natural.”

Female sitatunga are smaller than their male counterparts with chestnut-coloured coats.

Males start life the same chestnut colour as females but develop darker fur and spiralled horns that point backward as they grow older.

Their horns make it easier for them to navigate through dense vegetation which is important in the wild as they live in densely vegetated African swamps. Sitatunga are naturally very quick, shy, and stealthy.

Guests might have to look carefully to see the new calf because these elusive creatures can be hard to find, blending into their surroundings.

They have banana shaped hooves with two elongated, widely splayed toes, allowing them to move almost silently through water and avoid sinking in boggy mud.

Sitatunga are great swimmers and can paddle several miles if they need to. They have water repellent fur and have been known to completely submerge themselves to avoid predation in the wild.

Populations of sitatunga are decreasing in the wild although the species is listed as being of Least Concern on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.

You can read more about our conservation work here: Conservation – Marwell Zoo