It takes a lot to turn me back into a giggly girl. To be specific, it takes a baby gerenuk.
I had never seen one before, either. But just look at this:
Good grief, that thing is cute. And to top it off, its name is "Blossom." I mean, seriously.
This little darling, unfortunately, is all the way at the Denver Zoo. But if you're heading north soon, read on:
DENVER ZOO CELEBRATES FIRST EVER GERENUK BIRTH
Visitors Can See Gerenuk Calf "Blossom" Now
Denver, CO (March 21, 2013) - Denver Zoo is thrilled to announce the birth of Blossom, the first gerenuk (Gair-uh-nook) ever to be born at the zoo. The female calf was born March 6 to mother, Layla, and father, Woody, and is the third generation female currently living in the gerenuk exhibit. The small antelope species is known to be shy and are expert hiders, but guests may be able to catch a glimpse of Blossom in her yard now, weather depending.
Blossom has just begun venturing out into her yard and thoroughly enjoys it as she runs and jumps to the delight of her first visitors. Between bursts of speed, though, she likes to catch her breath in a cubby hole between some rocks. Blossom is also Layla's first calf and she is proving to be a very attentive mother, frequently making sure to clean and check on Blossom.
Layla was born at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Bay Lake, Florida in October 2008 and arrived at Denver Zoo with her mother, Sushaunna, from there in July 2012. Woody was born at the Los Angeles Zoo in March 2006 and came to Denver Zoo in May 2007. Layla and Woody were paired under recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP) which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Fortunately, the couple has proved to be an excellent match.
The word "gerenuk" means "giraffe-necked" in the Somali language. Adults of the species weigh between 60 and 100 pounds and can stand about three and a half feet tall at the shoulder, but have long, thin necks as well. Gerenuks also have specially designed hips and pelvises which give them the unique ability to stand up completely vertical on their hind legs. This nearly doubles their height as they browse for hard to reach leaves and twigs in trees.
Gerenuks inhabit the bushland, thickets, semi-arid and arid thornbush of eastern Africa. With an estimated wild population of about than 95,000 individuals they are classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
Denver Zoo is also working with private nature conservancies and group tribal ranches to protect land for gerenuks and other species in Kenya. This includes providing education outreach to understand wildlife populations and the best way to manage their habitats.