Mother’s Day 2014 saw a new mom at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum with the birth of its first Big Horn lamb since 2007. The new lamb arrived early Saturday morning, May 10. Over the years, the Museum has had six successful Big Horn births.
The ewe, recently transferred from the Los Angeles Zoo, had given birth to one previous lamb. At this time, it’s unknown if the newborn is male or female. According to its keepers, the lamb is inquisitive, agile, and has been exploring its new home.
According to Shawnee Riplog-Peterson, the Museum’s Curator of Mammalogy, “This 3-year old dam was part of an exchange program organized by the American Zoological Association’s program to breed captive Big Horn sheep with the purpose of expanding the genetic diversity of the 46 animals held in captivity by six partner organizations. By using extensive genetic DNA information, the goal of the program is to breed for the most diverse herd possible, thereby reducing the number of Big Horns to be taken from wild populations in the future.”
Their mating season runs from July – October although breeding can occur anytime. Males do not defend breeding territories but do fight for breeding rights.
Gestation lasts from 150-180 days. Lambs are typically born January through April.
The diet of big horn sheep is comprised mainly of grasses, but they may eat sedges, forbs, and cacti. They have a complex nine-stage digestive process that allows them to maximize removal of nutrients from their food.
See our Videos on the Desert Museum or watch a slideshow on the new up close and personal Keeper-Walk here.