Delight as foal of one of world’s rarest species is born in the UK

  • A foal belonging to one of the world’s rarest species has been born at a UK zoo.

    Hampshire’s Marwell Zoo welcomed the African wild ass foal, born to first-time parents Jahzahra and Lars on 5 August. The African wild ass, believed to be the ancestor of the domestic donkey, faces an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild.

    A Marwell spokesman said the zoo has breeding African wild asses successfully for many years, boosting numbers of the species, which has been on the critically endangered list since 1996.

    Credit: Jason Brown Photography

    “The birth of this foal is an extremely important addition to the zoo, especially as we are only one of three collections in the UK to hold a breeding herd of African wild ass,” said Ian Goodwin, Marwell’s animal collection manager.

    “We’re all very proud that mother and foal are doing so well. The African wild ass inhabit Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.There are estimated to be fewer than 600 in the wild so they are incredibly rare and they sadly face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.”

    The zoo also welcomed two Hartmann’s mountain zebras, on 6 and 11 August. The breed which is mainly found in the wild in Namibia, Angola and South Africa, is classed as vulnerable to extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species.

    Credit: Jason Brown Photography

    “The first foal was born to Dayimani and Davu and the second to Dorotka and Davu,” said the spokesman.

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    “The wild Hartmann’s mountain zebra population suffered a dramatic loss in the early 1980s due to extreme droughts. While the species has recovered to more than 30,000 individuals since then, an event similar to the one in the 1980s is increasingly likely under climate change. This could wipe out more than 30% of the wild population, making the zoo populations an important back up for the conservation of the species.”

    The foals, who are yet to be named or sexed, can be seen at the site in Winchester.

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