An adorable new resident has made his public debut at the Lake District Wildlife Park near Keswick. A dwarf zebu calf – one of the planet’s oldest and smallest breed of cows – has been meeting the public after moving into his own public enclosure for the first time.
Known for a striking camel-like hump to store fat when food is scarce, the pint-sized breed is thought to date back to at least three thousand BC and is recognised as the sacred cow of India.
Named ‘Nico’, the Wildlife Park’s new addition was born several weeks ago but has been spending time in a private area, to prepare him for joining the main herd.
The calf was born without a suckle reflex, which meant that when his mum’s milk dried up, he had to be hand-reared by staff.
Nico was bottle-fed before being introduced to pellets and grass, and is now being slowly integrated into the herd so he doesn’t become too dependent on humans.
When he is fully grown, the youngster will reach around three and a half feet tall.
Vicky Jennings is Head Keeper at the Lake District Wildlife Park. She says, “The Dwarf Zebu are one of my favourite animals at the Park. They are so gentle and easy-going, which makes them a big hit with visitors. Our new calf is also very cute and is already interacting well with the people he meets. Children especially are really loving him!”
Manager of the Lake District Wildlife Park, Richard Robinson, adds, “These domesticated animals are lovely beasts and we are proud to see them breeding at the Park. Zebu are revered in places like Madagascar, where they are vitally important in everyday life for helping to plough fields and sustain traditional farming methods. So, having them here in Cumbria does help to educate people about different ways of life.”
He adds, “On a practical level, it is also useful for the staff to learn to hand-rear these more docile, domesticated creatures. It means they can build up the experience and knowledge to deal with the rarer and more unpredictable animals as well.”