Well, the salad days have come to an end for some of last year’s San Diego Zoo babies (see previous post, Hogs, Okapis, Hippos, and More!).
Red river hog Jabari recently celebrated his first birthday. He’s currently tipping the scales at 70 pounds, and while he is still well away from full maturity, he is hardly the tiny little piglet that could fit in one hand.
Jabari is very independent; a few months ago, as part of our ongoing pig management, he was separated from his parents (Tarzan and Asali), and left to share an exhibit with C.T. (an unrelated older female). Jabari took the move in stride, making no fuss. He is also incredibly bright (as most pigs are). In order to get accurate weights on him, we needed to train him to enter and stay in a crate, stress free. The process of introducing him to the crate, getting him to go in, and closing him in for the weigh-in took all of a week.
Sekele, our 11-month-old okapi, is doing very well. He’s been fully weaned for some time and is now separated from his mother, Safarani. Sekele’s training has been a little more challenging, especially now that he is entering the okapi equivalent of the “terrible twos.”
He still allows keepers up-close interaction with him and enjoys a good rubdown, but we have to be a little more careful to avoid getting injured. In another seven months or so, Sekele’s ossicones (horns) should start coming in, and then he’ll look just like a smaller version of his father, Biscotti, who is having a great time with the keepers at the Wild Animal Park.
Unfortunately, as is life, not all the news is good. Sadly, Tembikai, the three-month-old Malayan tapir, recently passed away (see post New Tapir, New Year). This is a huge loss for our staff as well as the captive tapir population. The cause of Tembikai’s death is as yet undetermined. Tembi will be sorely missed.
Nate Schierman is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.