Rare equine born at British zoo

  • A Somali wild ass — one of just a few hundred in the world — has been born at a zoo in Hampshire.

    The young foal was born on 9th July at Marwell Zoo, near Winchester. She has been named “Nthanda”, which means star in Tumbuka — a language spoke in parts of the breed’s native East Africa.

    Nthanda has been enjoying the sunshine with her mother, Tikva.

    She is doing really well and it’s great watching her find her feet and play around the paddock,” said the zoo’s Ian Goodwin.

    “She is a vital addition to the European endangered species breeding programme,” he added.

    It is not known exactly how many Somali wild ass there are left in the wild, but estimates are as low as 280.

    The species — which has been labelled critically endangered since 1996 — is found in the harsh deserts of Eritrea, northern Ethiopia and Somalia.

    Somali wild ass face competition for water and food with livestock and are hunted for their food and hides. A further threat to their survival comes through inter-breeding with domestic donkeys, which accelerates the extinction of the wild species.

    Tanya Langenhorst of Marwell Zoo added: “The Somali wild ass is the most threatened of all equid species, so we are very excited about the birth of this beautiful foal.”

    Marwell has been key in the conservation of this rare breed. The first Somali wild ass bred in the UK was born at Marwell in 1996.


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