We’ve got a new bi-monthly feature here called the “Brookfield Zoo animal spotlight.” Each time, we will feature one (or more) of Brookfield Zoo’s animals and give you some background information about the animal(s), its species, its family and its connection to the zoo!
Animal name: Gumby
Birth date: February 20, 2012
How long he has been at the zoo: Gumby arrived in fall 2013 from San Diego Wild Animal Park
Q. Give us a bit of background on Gumby’s species.
A. Gumby looks a little unusual, right? That’s because his species is well adapted for its dry habitat in the Greater Horn of Africa. The word gerenuk actually means “giraffe-necked” in the Somali language, and these animals’ long neck plays a critical role in their survival. It is thought that they can go for a long time without needing water, because they can get a lot of the moisture they need from the leaves they eat. They can also stand on their hind legs and use their long neck to reach leaves that other leaf eaters can’t get to because they are too short reducing the competition for food in their dry environment. Plus, their large ears give them excellent hearing and their thin legs keep them quick and nimble.
Q. Does Gumby have any other family at the zoo?
A. Not yet. Currently, he lives with another male gerenuk named Pepe. But Gumby will be our breeding male, so when we get females, we could have baby Gumbys. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.
Q. Can zoo guests see Gumby?
A. Absolutely! He is in his yard with Pepe every day, but you may have to look hard to spot him. These guys are unbelievably cute, but they like to hide in bushes and stand perfectly still to avoid being seen by predators.
Q. Where can people learn more about gerenuks and Gumby?
A. At Brookfield Zoo, of course! We have a gerenuk “Zoo Chat” that takes place at 11:00 a.m. every day. You can stop by to learn all about our gerenuks. You may even get to see them stand on their hind legs to eat while you listen and observe them. Our staff and volunteers are always happy to answer questions from anyone interested in the animals.
Q. Is there anything else that you think folks should know about Gumby?
A. This is the first time in Brookfield Zoo’s history that we have gerenuks. Because Gumby was bottle raised by staff at San Diego Wild Animal Park, he is exceptionally social and friendly. He loves interacting with people and is exceptionally inquisitive. He quickly has become everyone’s favorite and is an amazing ambassador for his species.Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield Zoo animal spotlight