New at the zoo

There are some new faces at Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot, except they’re animal faces rather than human faces and on Monday afternoon they were watching visitors walk past their exhibit.

Roosevelt Park Zoo has added three Japanese Serow to its collection, a male, female and a month-old baby. The male and female have been at the zoo since April, and before that were located at the Los Angeles Zoo. Roosevelt Park Zoo is one of only six institutions in North America that house Japanese Serow.

According to Ann Olson, zoo veterinarian, the zoo had two male Japanese Serow in its collection about a year and a half before the 2011 flood and then were evacuated when the flood water became a threat. Recently, Roosevelt Park Zoo had been recommended to have a pair of Japanese Serow for breeding.

The zoo will be able to keep them for an unspecified amount of time or until another zoo needs them, Olson said.

“We’re planning for them to be a permanent exhibit,” she added.

Japanese Serow are in the goat family and originate from Japan. They first came to the United States in 1976 and were once thought to be endangered for a time in the 1970s, but are currently not on the endangered species list. Japanese Serow look like long-horned goats, Olson said. Both the male and female have horns.

Typically weighing in at 110 to 240 pounds, Japanese Serow are considered fairly small. They are acclimated to the cold woodlands of the mountainous area of Japan.

“We’re hoping they will adjust to the climate here,” Olson said. “And they prefer to be outside.”

The Japanese Serow are herbivores and in the wild eat mainly leaves, grasses and bamboo. In the zoo setting, they eat specialized pellets, hay and browse.

“They’re much easier to see (at the zoo) because the sewer project is nearly complete,” Olson said. “It’s easier to walk around in the zoo now and to get in.”

Also, the Japanese Serow are not well-adjusted to people, Olson said, so she and the other zookeepers try to be quiet around them.

“But they have been adjusting really well,” she added.

The male Serow is named Tony, Olson said, and the female is named Azuki. Tony is five years old, while Azuki is eight. However, Olson said they don’t know yet if the baby is a male or female. One of the zookeepers will try to get a better look soon, she added.

Roosevelt Park Zoo will be getting other animals as well. Olson said they are waiting on the otter and penguin exhibits and the red panda will be arriving soon. Construction on the red panda exhibit will start later this summer, she added. Also, the aviary is currently under construction and the zoo staff has been looking at lists of birds to house in it.

“It’s an exciting time,” Olson said.

The zoo is open for its summer hours, everyday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.