EL PASO, Texas – The El Paso Zoo has welcomed a female fawn to its herd of Peninsular pronghorn antelope.

Valentina weighed-in at approximately 7 pounds when she was born on exhibit May 13 to parents Martina and Tabasco. Martina has birthed several fawns.

“Martina has always been a great mom. She was even willing to nurse her sister’s babies in the past,” said El Paso Zoo Keeper Tracy Sipes. “She is very attentive to her new fawn, Valentina.”

The birth is part of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to aid in the species’ conservation. Peninsular pronghorn are currently listed as “critically endangered” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. This makes this species one category before “extinct.”

The fastest land animal in North America, pronghorns can run at speeds close to 60 miles per hour. Already steady on her hooves, Valentina can be seen on exhibit running around with the rest of the pronghorn herd when guests visit the Zoo.

EL PASO, Texas – El Paso Zoo keeper Tracy Sipes returned from Armendaris Ranch near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico where she contributed to field conservation efforts saving bolson tortoises.

Since it is bolson tortoise breeding season, Sipes was able to help the Turner Endangered Species Fund (TESF) with ongoing research aimed at establishing a free living, minimally-managed Bolson tortoise population in the northern portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. The Zoo has partnered with TESF to help save this desert tortoises for six years.

“My hope is that we can share knowledge and keep learning more together,” said El Paso Zoo Keeper Tracy Sipes. “I’m excited to be a conservation field work volunteer and learn, so I can go back out and help with species survival and tortoise research.”

The bolson tortoise, commonly known as the Mexican giant tortoise, is the largest of four North American tortoise species. With their powerful front legs, tortoises dig burrows in which they spend over 85 percent of their time hiding to avoid the hot Chihuahuan Desert heat. However, the burrows are an important part of a healthy desert ecosystem, as they provide shelter for a myriad other species, including mammals, birds, reptiles and insects. The tortoise is categorized as “vulnerable,” one category before endangered. The last population survey estimated fewer than 10,000 animals alive in the early 1980’s.

EL PASO, Texas – Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Misty Garcia has returned from Baja, Mexico where she contributed to field conservation efforts hand-rearing endangered Peninsular Pronghorn fawns. Helping save wildlife is a goal of the El Paso Zoo.

Before the young fawns can be transferred, it is vital the animals are hand reared by animal care and veterinary staff. Dr. Garcia, along with staff from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, The Living Desert and Sedgwick County Zoo, assisted staff from Espacios Naturales. In private conditions, she was able to hand rear fawns for transfer to the Los Angeles Zoo and Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City. Garcia spent two weeks in primitive conditions helping insure species survival. Espacios Naturales helps bring these hand reared fawns to zoos in the United States accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to establish an insurance population for the species.

“My goal, so much of the work we do at the Zoo, really, is contributing to the species survival of wild populations.” Dr. Garcia said. “Being able to contribute to conservation work in the field is what you aspire to be able to do when you go to vet school. I am so honored to represent the borderland and the Zoo while helping save species.”

The Peninsular pronghorn is one of the most endangered large mammals in Mexico and it is considered to be a critically endangered species.  The pronghorn has been severely reduced in its native Baja Peninsula and Southern California region by hunting, habitat destruction, and cattle ranching. 

Click here to see the pictures from and read more about Dr. Misty's conservation field work! 

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