Wildebeest Wildebeest Wildebeest

Animal Profile

Wildebeest are sometimes called “gnus” (pronounced “news”)

Scientific Name Connochaetes taurinus albojubatus
Class Mammal
Length Up to 8 feet (2.4 m)
Shoulder Height 4-5 feet (1.2-1.5 m)
Weight up to 600 pounds (272 kg)
Life span 20 years
Number of young at birth 1 at a time
Age of maturity

3-4 years

1.5-2.5 years

Conservation status Stable

Home sweet home
Wildebeest live in Africa from southern Kenya and southern Angola to northern South Africa, and they prefer open grassy plains, usually near water.

Feeding the ‘beest
Grasses and succulents make up the majority of the wildebeest’s diet. They have two different diets at the zoo. In the winter, they eat high fiber pellets and alfalfa hay. In the summer, however, they transition to low fiber pellets and they simply eat the grasses on the African Journey’s savannah. They can also get salt licks and mineral blocks.

Bearded boys (and girls)
Wildebeest are grey-brown or silver and have brown or dark gray bands on their neck, shoulders, and forelimbs. A shaggy, white beard hangs from a black face and long, broad muzzle. Wildebeest also have black manes and tails. Like their fellow antelopes, both males and females have heavy, curved horns that angle up and in.

Lunchtime nappers
Wildebeest are active in early morning and late afternoon, wisely resting during the hottest part of the day. They have keen eyesight and run up to 50 miles per hour. Wildebeest are loud and social mammals. The dry season brings together tens of thousands of wildebeest. The herds migrate, following the rains that bring tender green grasses.

All bark and very little bite
Males use physical displays and loud calls to defend their territory, but they will rarely fight another wildebeest. However, wildebeest will fight if cornered by predators.

Right on schedule
All young are born two to three weeks before the rainy season. A single calf is born to each mother. The calf can stand within fifteen minutes of birth. Lions stalk the herds at calving time, preying on the weakest newborn calves.