Baby bighorn sheep born at ZooMontana

2014-05-03T11:58:00Z 2014-05-04T00:35:06Z Baby bighorn sheep born at ZooMontanaBy SUSAN OLP The Billings Gazette

Spring is in the air at ZooMontana.

Holly, one of two pregnant bighorn sheep at the zoo, gave birth on Friday evening.

The event was announced on the zoo’s Facebook page.

Executive Director Jeff Ewelt said he happened to be walking by the exhibit just before 7 p.m., when he noticed something going on.

“Next thing I knew, I saw the water bag coming out,” Ewelt said Saturday. “So my family and I stayed and we were able to watch the whole thing. It was remarkable.”

The gestation period for a ewe is 180 days. Holly, a first-time mom, gave birth earlier than expected, he said, but the infant is healthy.

The sex of the newest member of the bighorn family isn’t yet known.

“As soon as it was born, it tried to walk, and 20 minutes later the baby was standing and already nursing,” Ewelt said.

Both the mother and baby are doing fine. But Hunter, the father, had a little different reaction.

“The dad was pretty terrified,” Ewelt said, laughing. “He sniffed at the baby, the baby jerked and the dad took a jump backwards and ran away.”

Hazel, the other pregnant ewe, is expected to give birth in the next couple of weeks.

Both lambs will likely remain at the zoo for at least six months. After that, the adult ram can get territorial, and for the sake of their safety, the youngsters will probably go elsewhere, Ewelt said.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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