Reindeer Fawn Born at Brookfield Zoo

(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

About this time last year, Brookfield Zoo welcomed its first baby reindeer in nearly four decades when mother Bunny gave birth to a male fawn. The young reindeer now has a new baby sister.

After a gestation period of nearly eight months, Bunny gave birth to her second fawn just after noon on April 2. 

The unnamed fawn weighed about 12 pounds at birth but will double her weight in two weeks thanks to her mother’s rich milk, the zoo said. The fawn will also begin to graze on solid food within the next two weeks, but she’ll continue to rely on her mother for nutrition for about six months.

Like her brother, the fawn was up and walking around the reindeer habitat within two hours of her birth, the zoo said.

(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

Fawns are born with dark fur that acts as camouflage and absorbs heat from the sun. They begin to shed at about two to three months as lighter-colored fur grows in.

Reindeer like those at Brookfield Zoo live in arctic tundra and on the edge of woodlands in northern regions such as Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia.

According to the zoo, reindeer are different from all other deer species because their noses are covered with fur and both sexes have antlers, which grow out of small bony platforms called pedicles and are covered with velvet, a soft tissue that supplies nutrients.

Reindeer fawns develop antler buds shortly after birth that allow them to fend off predators. Males also use their antlers to woo females, and females use theirs to clear away snow while searching for food.

(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)(Jim Schulz / Chicago Zoological Society)

A thick coat of hollow hairs act as insulation by trapping in body heat, allowing reindeer to live in extreme cold temperatures. Reindeer also have two broad-hoofed toes that help support them on snowy or swampy ground. The hooves are equipped with sharp edges that prevent reindeer from slipping on ice.

Visitors can see Bunny and her newborn fawn bonding in their outdoor habitat at the zoo’s Hamill Family Wild Encounters.

Contact Alex Ruppenthal: @arupp | (773) 509-5623

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