Denver Zoo celebrating first-ever gerenuk birth

DENVER - The Denver Zoo is celebrating the first gerenuk ever to be born at the zoo.

The female calf named Blossom was born March 6 to mother, Layla, and father, Woody.

Blossom has just started venturing out into her yard but the species is known to be shy, according to zoo officials.  Guests may be able to catch a glimpse of Blossom running, jumping or catching her breath in a cubby hole between some rocks.

The word "gerenuk" means "giraffe-necked" in the Somali language. The small antelope species weighs 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. Zoo officials said 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, they are classified as near threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and fragmentation.