Akron Zoo welcomes Speke's gazelle calf


For the first time in its history, the Akron Zoo has welcomed a Speke’s gazelle calf. The female calf, named Aluna, was born on Jan. 4 and is doing great.

The calf’s parents are the zoo’s two Speke’s gazelles, female Gambella and male Gondar. The calf is currently residing in the gazelle barn with her mother and will make her public debut once the weather begins to warm up.

Speke’s gazelles are a new species to the Akron Zoo, residing in the zoo’s new area, Landon and Cynthia Knight Pride of Africa, which opened in June 2019. These gazelles, which are the smallest species of gazelles, are a rare species to find in zoos. Only 10 other zoos in North America have this species.

Speke’s gazelles are native to the Horn of Africa, specifically Somalia. On average, they are two feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 25 – 40 pounds. Aluna currently weighs approx. eight pounds.

Speke’s gazelles are classified as endangered by the IUCN Red List. Populations are declining due to loss of habitat, poaching and overgrazing by livestock, such as cattle and goats. Their population numbers have decreased by 50% since 1988.

The Akron Zoo participates in the Speke’s Gazelle Species Survival Plan (SSP) as an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility. The SSP is a program that works to establish a genetically-diverse population of endangered species as a safeguard against extinction.

“Due to their status as an endangered species, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums has prioritized conservation action for Speke’s gazelles, both in their native habitat and in zoos,” said Shane Good, director of collections management at the Akron Zoo. “We are very excited for this species at the Akron Zoo and what this birth means for the sustainability of Speke’s gazelles in zoos, as well as their native habitat.” 

Speke’s gazelles are warm-weathered animals and are not in the outdoor habitat in the winter. The gazelles’ roommates, white storks, remain in the habitat in Pride of Africa daily. The three gazelles will return to the multi-species habitat in the spring.