Keepers at Wild Place Project have celebrated the birthday of one of the world’s smallest species of antelopes.
The tiny Kirk’s dik dik, named Croissant, turns five this weekend (Sunday, April 5) and, despite the lack of visitors, keepers made a special effort to mark the occasion.
Croissant, along with fellow dik diks Streusel, Éclair and Macaroon, enjoyed a birthday cake made from their favourite food complete with celery ‘candles’, a buffet of fresh vegetables, flowers in a cabbage vase and even cabbage bunting – all presented on a tiny makeshift table.
Keeper Daniella Pearce-Butler said: “We all need a bit of cheerful news at the moment, so we thought we’d throw Croissant a little birthday party to celebrate. I think they wondered what we were doing at first, but were quick to tuck in and seemed to enjoy it!”
Keepers at Wild Place Project have been hugely successful at breeding the species, with three calves born in the last 18 months alone – a huge boost for the European captive breeding programme for these beautiful animals.
The species is so small that the calves weigh just 750g at birth - less than a bag of sugar. Even when fully grown they stand at just 40cm (16 inches) tall.
Dik-diks are native to eastern and southern Africa and get their name from the distinctive trumpet-like call which the females emit to raise an alarm, to harass predators or publicise the presence of a mated pair.
In the wild they are hunted by leopards, lions, hyenas, wild dogs, caracals and even birds of prey, but they have excellent eyesight and can run up to 42 km/h (26 mph) which helps them escape.
Wild Place Project is owned and run by Bristol Zoological Society which is a conservation and education charity. It relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.
This week Bristol Zoological Society launched a fundraising appeal to ensure the future of its work saving wildlife. The appeal aims to safeguard Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens, as well as its conservation projects in 10 countries around the world.
To find out more about how you can help at this difficult time, please visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/covid19appeal