28 August 2023

Zoo celebrates birth of critically-endangered African wild ass

28 August 2023

A Hampshire zoo is celebrating the birth of a critically-endangered African wild ass, which is one of the rarest mammals on the planet.

The male foal, which has not yet been named, was born at Marwell Zoo near Winchester on August 20 to parents Nadifa and Lars.

Darren Ives, the zoo’s senior animal keeper for hoofstock, said the birth was important because there were fewer than 200 left in the wild.

He said: “The team is very excited after a year-long wait for the foal to be born and what makes it even more special is we haven’t had an African wild ass foal born at Marwell since 2020.

“The foal has already been seen doing ‘zoomies’ around the paddock and is looking nice and healthy.”

The African wild ass is native to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somali, but are preyed on by African lions and Ethiopian wolves, and have also been hunted by humans for food, causing their numbers to decline in the wild.

A Marwell spokeswoman said: “The birth of one of the rarest mammals on the planet has thrilled keepers at Marwell Zoo this week, following the arrival of a critically-endangered African wild ass.

“With gangly legs and floppy ears, it’s an addition that’s sure to be popular with guests too.

“The new arrival at Marwell is reported to be doing well and can be seen with mother Nadifa in the paddock opposite Okapi playground.

“The father, Lars, has been moved into an enclosure next door to our banteng whilst Nadifa bonds with her new arrival.

“Nadifa was born here in 2007 so the arrival of her foal is a continuation of Marwell’s commitment to conserving this critically-endangered species, which we’ve had at Marwell since 1993.

“This is Nadifa’s third foal and Lars has become a father for the fifth time. Keepers have confirmed the foal is male but haven’t given him a name yet.”

She added: “With so few of these animals left in the wild, it’s more important than ever to ensure there is a healthy, genetically diverse population of African wild asses in zoos as a back up for populations in the wild.

“The new foal will play an important role in the future preservation of its species for future generations.”

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