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Lots of little ones at the Assiniboine Park Zoo

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Spring means twitterpated animals at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Chris Enright, head of Veterinary Services, brought the Sou’wester around to make baby introductions and pregnancy announcements.

The Muskox have welcomed two new calves to their tiny herd. Born at the end of May both are doing very well. They were bred as part of the Species Survival Program. Muskoxen, native to arctic climates and Manitoba, will be part of the Journey to Churchill Exhibit. During the Sou'wester's visit, the herd was very keen to keep the young ones out the camera's sight.

The reindeer, or caribou in North America, have three little ones born between April 25 and mid-May. Unlike deer, reindeer calves are standing and running within 30 minutes of birth due to their instinct to migrate with the herd.

Four joeys still dependent on their mothers. The gestation period for a joey is only 30 days, but when it is born it remains in its mother’s pouch for up to six months. Mom can actually nurse two joeys at once at different stages of development, producing two different types of milk.

Enright said the snow leopards are expecting. The female came from Tacoma, Wash. and the male came from Tulsa, Okla. Both were brought together at the Assiniboine Zoo because they were genetically determined to be a good match to produce offspring. Zoo officials saw breeding behaviour and she is due at the end of July.

In the squirrel monkey enclosure, Enright said it’s a story of five females having to get used to having a strange male in their habitat. Three months ago, the male from Edmonton was added to the enclosure in hopes he would breed. Like any group of female roommates, they weren’t too happy to have a male come into their habitat. "He looks like a football player next to the females but when he first came in he had some major sucking up to do," said Enright. "He did a good job though."

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