22 July 2023, by Victoria Séveno

This week, ARTIS had some pretty happy news to share with the general public, announcing that two beautiful and healthy baby Sahara oryx had been born at the zoo in the past few weeks. This news is especially noteworthy as the species was declared extinct in the wild back in 2000. 

Two Sahara oryx born at ARTIS Amsterdam Royal Zoo

The two calves were born to two different mothers this summer. The eldest is now about a month old, while the youngest was born just last week. The zoo also shared the rather sad news that a third recently born calf died a few days after birth.

Luckily, the two surviving calves seem to be thriving. “We found both lambs completely dry and licked clean shortly after birth, which is a good sign of the bond between the mothers and their young,” ARTIS’ Danny Sopjes told AT5.

ARTIS has been home to a herd of Sahara oryx for over 60 years, and the zoo in Amsterdam is part of a Europe-wide breeding programme designed to preserve the species. Since last February, the herd has shared an enclosure with a variety of other animals from their native habitat, including meerkats – who apparently were intrigued by the new arrivals.

Sahara oryx declared extinct in the wild in 2000

Also known as the scimitar oryx or the scimitar-horned oryx, the Sahara oryx is a species that was once found across North Africa. As the name suggests, the species is adapted to live in harsh desert conditions and can survive for months – or even years! – without water, instead deriving most of its daily moisture intake from the plants it eats. 

Sadly, the Sahara oryx was declared extinct on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2000. The species is threatened by a combination of factors, including the fact that it has historically been hunted for its horns, meat and hide. In 2016, a small herd that had been bred in captivity was successfully reintroduced in Chad.

Thumb: Dutchmen Photography via Shutterstock.com.

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