Zoo gets two new ewes

Dorothy and Irene have cinnamon red-colored faces and pendulous ears, something that makes the rare domestic breed of sheep called Tunis sheep unique.

The two ewes are the newest additions to Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo’s collection.

The sheep were donated to the Minot zoo by Sandy Wilson, a veterinarian at the

Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kan. Wilson raises Tunis sheep and the Wichita zoo also has Tunis sheep.

Wilson has been at the Minot zoo twice, most recently to assist in the male lion’s root canal this past July, according to Staci Kenney, executive director of the Minot Zoo Crew, formerly Greater Minot Zoological Society.

On Friday, Ann Olson, zoo veterinarian, showed The Minot Daily News the two Tunis sheep in their new quarters in the zoo.

Dorothy and Irene are sharing a pen with Noah, a domestic breed of sheep, who was born in 2011. Noah came to the zoo in 2011 for the zoo’s petting zoo but had to be

evacuated with other zoo animals due to the Souris River flood that year. He has remained on with the zoo, Olson said.

According to Kenney, the Tunis breed is part of the Livestock Conservancy that strives to promote genetic conservation and heritage breeds.

The breed has ties to North African (province of Tunis) sheep that first arrived in America in the late 1700s. Over the years, the Tunis sheep became their own breed and are one of the oldest in the U.S., although during the Civil War most of the breed in the southeast was wiped out.

Another interesting characteristic of the sheep is when Tunis lambs are born their coat is mahogany red on the surface. Their coat changes to creamy white fleece as they mature, according to the National Tunis Sheep Registry website.

Visitors to Minot’s Roosevelt Park Zoo can meet the two new Tunis sheep in the Children’s Zoo when the zoo opens on May 3.