Lamb born in Central Park Zoo before Irene hit

September 1, 2011 7:56:28 AM PDT
A lamb was born at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Central Park Zoo on Saturday, the day Hurricane Irene hit New York City.

Born in a stable as the city braced for the storm, the lamb has been named Irene Hope.

Early Saturday morning, as curators and staff were readying the zoo for the hurricane, the lamb was found cuddled next to her mother in the Tish Children's Zoo.

"On a day of great uncertainty for New York City, the lamb brought smiles and hope to all of us at the zoo," assistant zoo curator Susan Cardillo said. "We had to name her Irene Hope. She was a big surprise. It is rare to see a lamb born in late August."

After finding the lamb and making sure she was healthy, Irene Hope was secured with her mother in their stable as the storm roared through the area. The first 24 hours of nursing is critical to a lamb's health. Since Irene Hope and Truffle needed privacy to bond, zookeepers partitioned one end of the stable to create a private stall.

As flood waters receded around the zoo early on Sunday, Cardillo was relieved when she found lamb and ewe resting peacefully.

At birth, Irene Hope weighed about 8 pounds. Her mother is Truffle and her father is Sid.

Irene Hope is a Southdown or baby doll sheep, one of the oldest breeds of sheep that originate from Sussex, England.

In all, Central Park Zoo has six Southdown sheep: one ram, three ewes and now three lambs.

Irene Hope will be nursed by her mother for approximately three to four months.