As summer approaches, so does one of the best seasons at the park: baby season! Pretty soon babies will start dropping at Wildlife Safari, and our drive through will be full of small Bison, Rhea, and more! It’s a wonderful season, full of new life, but it does get the keepers on their toes a little more than usual. Here at Safari we count and check on every single one of our animals every day, so when little ones start appearing, making sure they have the correct count gets interesting!
Erica Sherrow, Lead Ungulate Keeper, tells us a little about it. “Baby season is crazy!” She says. “But its a good crazy. It’s a surprise every morning!”
The Ungulates department looks after 253 animals, and around 20 species. “It’s very hard to find the babies,” says Sherrow. “The Bison are a little easier to see, they look like little cheeto puffs, they are bright orange.” The Fallow deer fawns, however, pose more of a challenge. “The moms do a really good job of hiding them – same with the Blackbuck.”
We hope to have babies born from Fallow deer, Blackbuck, Wildebeest, Scimitar horned Oryx, and Bison, however, you can never tell how successful a breeding season has been until the count at the end, or how many young will survive to maturity.
It is definitely a good time to visit the park, as you never know when babies will arrive. “We’ve had guests come through the park and observe a lot of bison births, and people who have seen the wildebeests,” says Sherrow. “People just get super excited about it. I mean, how often do you get to see a wildebeest give birth?”
For the rhea and emus, however, it’s still breeding season. Alison Trout, who is also a keeper in the Ungulate Department, says the birds are still actively seeking out mates. “They’re still a little flirty,” she says, which can make for some comical behaviors. “The rheas will have their wings out displaying, the emus walk around with their necks super puffed out.”
Of course, our visiting Canadian Geese who migrate in and out of the park with the seasons, are also a part of baby season, with dozens of little goslings running around!
Whether you love baby puff-ball birds or prancing fawns, this spring and summer is definitely the time for a Safari!