A zookeeper went the extra mile to save a gazelle which had been rejected by its mother – by taking it home and making it part of his family.
Mark Holden, 40, a senior keeper at Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, took the month-old gazelle named Larry home back to his family home in Leighton Buzzard, where the youngster was brought up to strength.
Mr Holden said: “Larry was a good house guest. After having his milk and a little walk around he would take himself off to bed for a rest.
“It was a little tricky from time to time. We had to keep an eye on him after each feed, and get ready with a towel in case he started to urinate.”
Larry, one of only four Thomson’s gazelles in the UK, was born in the zoo on October 9th 2014.
Mark Holden stepped in to hand-rear Larry after he noticed that the antelope’s mother was not returning to feed him.
Mr Holden said: “It’s always a last resort to separate a calf from the group, but little Larry was getting very weak and needed our help.
“As soon as we got some milk into him he started to improve. For a moment there we really didn’t think he was going to pull through.”
Larry spent two weeks living in the keeper’s sitting room. Mr Holden had to bottle-feed the calf with goat milk five times a day and at regular intervals during the night.
After the short holiday at Mr Holden’s home, Larry returned to the zoo where he was reunited with his mother.
Mr Holden said: “Larry is still getting a lot of extra care. He’s doing really well now, growing nicely and putting on weight. He has started to eat some solids like grass and hay, and will be able to be properly weaned in a few months.”
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