By Amanda Wright, Animal Care Professional
Oh Deer – well not quite! This Bambi look-a-like is actually a blue duiker and not related to a deer at all!
Duikers are African antelopes, and blue duikers are the smallest of all duiker species. The main difference between deer and antelopes involves the protrusions on their head. While deer have branched antlers that are shed and regrown annually, antelopes such as the blue duiker have non-branched, permanent horns.
Blue duikers stick to forest environments where they can use the trees and vegetation to easily hide from predators. In fact, the word “duiker” is derived from the Afrikaans word meaning “diver”. This name is suitable because as a defense mechanism, duikers dive into vegetation whenever they feel threatened.
Here at ZooTampa, you can find blue duikers in the Hornbill Aviary, which is located in the Africa section of the Zoo. If you look closely, you might even see a smaller duiker running around. Your eyes are not deceiving you. Emerald, our female blue duiker, recently had a calf! Blue duiker calves are very precocial, and can run within 20 minutes of being born! They spend their first few weeks hunkering down in safe spots, but as they get older, they also become more playful and inquisitive. Soon, you will be able to see this little calf running, jumping, and chasing after mom as she explores the world around her.
Deer or not, there’s no denying how cute these little antelopes are! Next time you’re at ZooTampa, be sure to swing by the Hornbill Aviary and see if you can spot our elusive blue duiker family.