Rolling Hills Zoo Welcomes Baby Addax

Ophelia and Ajax, Rolling Hills Zoo’s addaxes, are proud parents of their new baby girl named Nneka, born on June 9th.   Of western African origin, Nneka’s name means “my mother is supreme” in Igbo.  This is Ophelia’s fourth birth, and once again she is proving to be a very protective mother.

Ophelia and Nneka are now on public viewing and are doing very well.  “From the beginning Nneka has been quiet, but she is proving that she is her own little girl as she goes where she wants to go when she wants to go and makes mom follow along,” commented Brenda Gunder, General Curator.   “She has also started interacting with the other addaxes in the group.”

Natives to the African Sahara desert and once widespread across North Africa, the addax are a critically endangered species with less than 300 in the wild.  The last major population, of around 200, was in the Tin Toumma desert of eastern Niger.  Sometimes called the ‘screw horn antelope’ because of its twisted horns, the addax is a large desert dwelling member of the antelope family that mainly eats grasses and leaves of any available shrubs, and rarely if ever drink water but gets the water that they need from the food that they eat.  These animals are well-adapted to exist in their desert habitat, as they can live without water for long periods of time. Addax form herds of five to 20 members, consisting of both males and females.

Luke and Leia, twin addaxes, were born a year ago at Rolling Hills Zoo and will be celebrating their first birthday on July 5, 2016.  The twins were offspring of Aamira and Ajax, and their birth as twins was an extreme rarity, not only for the species but also that one was male and the other was female.    At a year, the twins are now half the size of the adults, which goes to show how fast they grow up.  So if you want to see Nneka while she’s still little don’t delay your visit to the Zoo!