A mysterious case has zookeepers following clues and looking for answers. Male caribou Bean lost his antlers just a couple months after they started to grow. Typically, male caribou will drop their antlers in late fall. Bean dropped his rack in October of 2022, which was a little early. Within a few weeks, there was evidence his next pair were coming in. Everything seemed as it should, but the small, growing antlers that were about 2 inches tall at the end of January, dropped nearly 10 months too early!

North America area supervisor, Dawn Fleuchaus, says this is very unusual but may happen in certain situations. One possible factor is Bean’s hormones. “He is a young animal, and hormones may fluctuate more at his age,” says Fleuchaus. When Bean dropped his full rack in October, he was still showing rut behavior, which caused him to rub the velvet off the new growth and eventually damaged them until they fell off. For comparison, Bean didn’t start to rub the velvet off his larger antlers until August of last year.

Fleuchaus is reaching out to Bean’s former home to ask more questions and is monitoring and keeping records of her own. Social dynamics, nutrition, age and genetics all play a part in antler development. That’s a lot of different factors to consider while the investigation into this mystery continues. Until then, Bean did start to grow another pair of antlers, and now only time will tell if they stay for the entire season.

Caribou Bean Without Antlers
Caribou Bean With Antlers