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Introducing Dawa! This little gazelle calf provides a big dose of joy!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
Photos: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Hello, Dawa!

We’d like to introduce you to Dawa! She is a bouncing baby (calf) Grant’s gazelle—and we mean that quite literally! Pronking—sometimes called stotting—is a kind of four-legged bounce or jump. Gazelles are known for this special kind of gait and, as you can see in the video (watch ‘til the end so you don’t miss a moment!) little Dawa has been eager to show that she mastered her pronking technique even when she was only a couple weeks old!

Dawa was born on March 5, to mom Blossom and dad Kamali—and is the first Grant’s gazelle born at Woodland Park Zoo since 2005. That morning, animal keeper Russ was busy with his regular routine of feeding, shifting, and cleaning parts of the barn where the gazelles rest and eat. As is often the case, there was music in the background since it provides wonderful enrichment for animals and people alike! Russ’s playlist includes music by The Cure, and that’s what was on when he witnessed the beautiful moment Blossom gave birth to her calf. The tune turned out to be the best inspiration for her name. Dawa comes from the Swahili word meaning “medicine” or “cure” ... the perfect moniker for a sweet calf who has provided a big dose of joy and excitement!

When she was born, Dawa weighed around 6 pounds.

Dawa weighed in at around 6 pounds when she was born. She is growing fast and, at 7 weeks old now, is already up to around 25 pounds! We know you’d love to see her, but she’s not quite big enough to be out on the Savanna yet. We’ll let you know when she’s ready to be in the public habitat, but for now we’re taking our cues from Blossom. In the wild, gazelle mothers keep their calves safely hidden for up to a few months to protect them from predators—and the same is true of our new mother. Blossom is following her instincts and has been quietly bonding with and tending to Dawa in a secluded area behind the scenes.

Our herd of Grant’s gazelle at Woodland Park Zoo is made up of five leggy ladies—all of them related. Blossom, Buttercup and Bubbles are all turning 5 years old this year—and yes, they were named after the Powerpuff Girls. Older female siblings Spirit and Hoser will be 10 this year—and Kamali, the male leader of our group, will be 5 in June.

Dawa is up to 25 pounds and is around 7 weeks old now. She is learning to do all the "gazelle stuff" from mom, Blossom .

One of the ways we keep tabs on the health of our herd is through frequent weigh-ins—part of a wellness routine that they actually do themselves! Our animal keepers have cleverly created a combo treat and weigh-in station where the gazelles can choose to eat some of their favorite snacks at bowls that are set up next to the scale platform—which are conveniently accessible via a “barn-cam” where the keepers can easily see and track their weights! (HINT: this is one of the ways we monitored the progress of Blossom’s pregnancy after we noticed she was looking suspiciously round in the belly!)

One of the adult gazelles stands on the scale that's part of a treat-feeding station. This is Buttercup and at the time this picture was taken she weighed 51 kilograms, which is about 112 pounds. Photo from "Keeper Cam"

Dawa will continue to nurse from Blossom throughout the spring and summer until she is ready to wean at 5 or 6 months old. But we’ve already seen her sampling solid foods from “mom’s plate” too, such as timothy hay, beet pulp, carrots, apples, romaine, and a mixture of specially formulated and nutritionally complete grain-based pellets.

Dawa, at around 7 weeks old, with her mother Blossom. They are bonding in a secluded area behind the scenes.

As we mentioned, Dawa is growing, stotting, eating, sleeping and doing lots of “gazelle stuff” behind the scenes with her mom right now, but we promise to let you know when she is big enough to go out into the public side of the Savanna. Until then, we hope you enjoy the video and pictures of this delightful new addition to our zoo family.