Cuvier's Gazelle International Studbook

The international studbook for Cuvier's gazelle (Gazella cuvieri) provides information on the location, date and place of birth, date and place of death, ancestors and transfers of any individual in the captive population of this species. It represents the most important tool for managing the population in captivity, assisting holders to make breeding decisions so that genetic diversity can be retained and inbreeding avoided.


Its history began in Almería (Spain) where the first individuals arrived in 1975 (2 males and 2 females). They were collected by Prof Valverde in the Western Sahara where they were part of a captive population in the Oued Drâa Valley. The captive population seems to be self-sustainable; it sums up to 280 individuals distributed among 11 zoological institutions in Europe, Canada and the United States. The largest captive population is in Almería (Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas; EEZA–CSIC) where there are 57 males and 94 females. Collaboration with the regional (North American) breeding programme is critical in order to ensure the sustainability of the captive population worldwide.


The first edition of the international studbook was produced in 1992; in 2008, the second edition was published. This second edition includes management and husbandry guidelines that are helpful for holders to manage the captive population. The use of studbook data is crucial to improve the management of the captive population, not only from a genetic perspective but also for demographic reasons. Hence, studbook data have been used to identify, for example, those traits of mothers that can affect the mortality of their calf or even their sex.


The gene pool of the captive population seems to be satisfactory, in spite of having so few founders. Indication of this is the fact that in 2008, for the first time in captivity, two different females gave birth and reared triplets. They were born on 26 March (2 males and 1 female) and 21 April (1 male and 2 females). Triplets are rare in ungulates; even twins are not common in most species. However, Cuvier's gazelles produce twins in a relatively high proportion, at least in captivity (39%). To produce and rear twins is more costly for mothers than to produce and rear singletons, and only females in very good body condition (vigorous as well as physically and genetically healthy) can afford the extra cost of having and taking care of twins. So, the two mothers having triplets are assumed to be in very good condition. As Cuvier's gazelle females have only two nipples, brothers and sisters within the triplet fight to suckle first; this behaviour is most frequently observed early in the morning.


Eulalia Moreno, Cuvier's Gazelle International Studbook Keeper 

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  • Cuvier's Gazelle International Studbook

    Cuvier's Gazelle International Studbook

    (1) - (3) © Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas