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Nigerian dwarf goat born at Franklin Park Zoo

On May 22, Nigerian dwarf goat, Leia, gave birth to twins at approximately 5:00 a.m. inside the barn at Franklin Farm. Sadly, one of the twins did not survive. Vader, the surviving twin, has been doing well although he had a rocky start.

Following his birth, Vader was weak and unable to nurse. It’s critically important for babies to nurse shortly after birth so that they receive the immunity transfer from the mother’s colostrum, otherwise the baby is at risk for infection. Shortly after birth, Vader was transferred to the Zoo Hospital at Franklin Park Zoo where staff bottle-fed him and provided attentive and around-the-clock care during the first few days of his life.

As another way of getting his immune system up and running, Zoo New England’s veterinary staff was able to collect blood from Leia, which they isolated the plasma from to provide some of the immune proteins that Vader needed. After getting the plasma separated, staff gave the baby a transfusion of the plasma while he was in the hospital – in other words, mom “donated” the plasma to her kid.

“Thanks to the incredibly skilled veterinary technician staff, the plasma transfusion was successful and the goat kid has since been doing well. As with any new baby, we are continuing to closely monitor Vader and we have been encouraged by his progress,” said Dr. Alex Becket, Associate Veterinarian in Zoo New England’s Department of Animal Health and Conservation Medicine.

Vader can be seen in his nursery inside the Brooder Barn where he is being hand-reared by the zookeepers. As part of the hand-rearing routine, Vader receives four bottles each day – which he is very enthusiastic about – amounting to about 20% of his body weight. He is not eating grain or other solid materials yet, but has begun to play with some of the straw that’s been provided to him for enrichment. Goats typically wean at about 2-3 months, but start eating hay and grass much earlier. His keepers will soon be offering him some pelleted hay to begin this weaning process.

Once he is weaned off of the bottles and grows big enough, he will return to the rest of the Nigerian dwarf goat group, which includes mom Leia and half-sibling, Chewbacca.

At birth, the kid weighed in at approximately 2.6 pounds, and is now up to 3.75 pounds. He’s been very vocal and active, and can often be seen playing with his keepers and running and jumping around.

Stay tuned to Franklin Park Zoo’s social media channels - Facebook (/franklinparkzoo), Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@zoonewengland), for future updates and milestones as Vader continues to grow.