Antelope get new digs in New Orleans

2017-09-28 22:38
A sable antelope is shown to the media during a tour of the new breeding facility. (File, AP)

A sable antelope is shown to the media during a tour of the new breeding facility. (File, AP)

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New Orleans - A tiny herd of African antelope has a new home on ranges in New Orleans and zookeepers hope they will take advantage of the extra space away from curious crowds of humans to relax and reproduce.

The Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife breeding centre has developed 35ha of its 400ha parcel of land, on the other side of the Mississippi River from the much smaller Audubon Zoo, where about 2 000 animals are on display.

In addition to 22 antelope - eight eland, six sable antelope, six Eastern bongos and two yellow-backed duiker - the area  will also serve as home for seven giraffes and two okapi, a close relation to the giraffe that stands out from the rest because of its black-and-white-striped legs. Most of the animals have been moved here from the San Diego Zoo and its safari park.

Operating costs

"We're letting them be animals...letting them do their thing," said Michelle Hatwood, curator for the centre, which was jointly established by the Audubon Nature Institute, an umbrella organisation that includes the Audubon Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy.

The land, owned by The Audubon Institute and the Coast Guard, was used for 20 years by an Audubon project that focused on cloning and artificial insemination of endangered animals. The San Diego Zoo covered the $5.2m cost for new site work, including the paddocks with solar-powered double gates, said zoo spokesperson Frank Donze. The two zoos are sharing a little more than $1m a year in operating costs, Hatwood said.

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