Taronga Western Plains Zoo welcomed a Banteng calf on 20 June 2019, and whilst he initially appeared strong and well bonded to his mother, on his second day of life he became acutely unwell and keepers found him weak and hypothermic.
"The neonatal or newborn period is a risky time for all animals as their immune systems are immature and they have very few reserves to deal with health challenges, so they can deteriorate rapidly," veterinarian Dr Michelle Campbell said.
The Banteng calf that has been affectionately called 'Mooie' was removed from the herd immediately and admitted to the Wildlife Hospital for intensive care.
Following a veterinary assessment and testing, the newborn calf was diagnosed with respiratory and gut infections.
"The calf was placed on a drip and had to be given nutrition via a tube until he was strong enough to drink from a bottle."
"Thankfully he responded well to the assortment of medications he was on and by 10 days of age his infections had cleared and he was doing much better," Michelle said.
Once Mooie was strong enough he was transitioned from bottle feeding to a special bucket feeder with a teat several times a day.
"This is an important step to increase independence and reduce the reliance on human contact.
During this time our veterinary nurses continued to care for and monitor him closely until he reached six weeks of age."
"By this time he was deemed fit to leave the Wildlife Hospital.
Mooie now weighed 36.6kgs up from 16.5kg when he first arrived at the hospital," Michelle said.
Mooie has been buddied up with 'Bandy' in the rearing yard behind-the-scenes at the Banteng exhibit.
Bandy is a four month old Banteng calf that also had a bit of a tough start to life and had to be hand-raised.
"Both calves are now thriving and keepers will continue to provide them with milk via the feeder until they are weaned at approximately six month of age and reintegrated as young, healthy boys into our herd," Michelle said.
Banteng are wild cattle species found in Southeast Asia.
Their numbers have dwindled in the wild due to habitat loss, hunting and diseases spread by domestic livestock.
This Sunday 18 August is the very first ever Action Indonesia Day, an opportunity to increase the profile of little known and underappreciated species such as the Banteng.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to seven Banteng including the two most recent calves.
For more zoo news visit: taronga.org.au/dubbo-zoo