The birth of a foal of a critically endangered species is cause for celebration

The new arrival, who has not yet been named, is doing well, according to zookeepers. © Africa Alive Zoological Reserve

A UK zoo is celebrating the arrival of a critically endangered Somali wild ass foal, one of the world’s rarest equine species.

There were fewer than 200 mature adults estimated to be left in the wild according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List of Threatened Species. They are often mistaken for striped-legged donkeys.

The youngster was born to his mother Calula and father Sahib on June 30 at the Africa Alive zoological reserve in Keesingland in Suffolk, owned by the conservation charity Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA).

Breeding programs are vital to the survival of this rare species, and this new foal is an important part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Program, of which ZSEA has been a part since 2004.

Haylee Parker, zoo animal management team leader at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve, said staff were thrilled with the latest addition. “These animals are often underestimated and mistaken for a striped-legged donkey, however, they are actually one of the rarest equines in the world.

“Conservation programs such as the European Endangered Species Breeding Program are extremely important to the survival of these species, ensuring that animals are genetically matched to create healthy populations of critically endangered animals. .

“Both dam and foal are doing very well and are visible in the paddock – they are already attracting a lot of attention from our visitors,” Parker said.

Calula first arrived at Africa Alive in 2007 from Basel Zoo in Switzerland and gave birth to six foals, the last born in 2019, two of whom were sired by Sahib who arrived at the park in 2016 from Tierpark, Berlin.

The Somali wild ass is found in small patches of the rocky deserts of northeast Africa and their ICUN ‘critically endangered’ status is the result of war, hunting and loss of habitat. habitat in nature.

The Zoological Society of East Anglia plays an active role in European endangered species breeding programs for a range of species to help save animals like the Somali wild ass from extinction.

Visitors can visit the rare Somali Wild Ass foal and watch him begin to explore his new home.

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