June 21, 2019
By Elena Bell, Marketing & PR Manager
It’s going to be an exciting summer here at your Akron Zoo! The Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa, our newest area, will open on June 29. Pride of Africa will include a new habitat for our African lions, white storks and goats and will feature an expanded train ride and a misting, water play area. The area will also introduce guests to a brand-new species, Speke’s gazelles.
Speke’s gazelles are native to the Horn of Africa, specifically Somalia. They received their name from an English explorer, John Hanning Speke, who is famous for discovering the source of the Nile River in 1858. On average, they are two feet tall (at the shoulder) and weigh 25-40 pounds. They are the smallest of all gazelle species
Speke’s gazelles have s-shaped horns, with the male being larger than the female. The majority of their fur is tan, with a dark band down their side and a white stripe on their nose and belly. The gazelles have an interesting-looking nose. There is loose skin on the top of their nose that they can inflate (pictured right), which amplifies their honk-like alarm calls.
Their unique look isn’t the only reason we are excited to welcome the Speke’s gazelles to your Akron Zoo – they are also endangered. The gazelle population is decreasing due to loss of habitat, poaching and overgrazing by livestock, such as cattle and goats. Their population numbers have decreased by 50% since 1988.
Speke’s gazelles are also a rare species to find in zoos.
“Due to their status as an endangered species, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has prioritized conservation action for this species, both in their native habitats and in zoos,” said Shane Good, director of collections management at the Akron Zoo.
“Only 12 other zoos in North America have this species, so our new habitat will provide much needed space to help create a sustainable population of Speke’s gazelle.”
The gazelles will reside in a multi-species habitat in Pride of Africa along with white storks and crested guineafowl. Speke’s gazelles are social animals and live in herds. There are family herds, made up of one adult male and several females, and bachelor herds, consisting of juvenile and young adult males without females.
“We plan to have one male and one female to start a herd. The pair will come with a breeding recommendation from the Speke’s Gazelle Species Survival Program (SSP),” said Good.
The SSP is a breeding program to help establish a genetically-diverse population of endangered species within zoos accredited by AZA, such as your Akron Zoo.
Make sure to come and see this new, fascinating species at your Akron Zoo when Pride of Africa opens on June 29.