'The rarest equines in the world' - Somali wild ass foal born at Africa Alive in Suffolk

A rare Somali wild ass foal has been born at Africa Alive.
A rare Somali wild ass foal has been born at Africa Alive. Credit: Africa Alive

A rare Somali wild ass foal has been born at a UK zoo, with keepers "over the moon".

The animals, often mistaken for stripy-legged donkeys, are among the rarest equine species in the world.

The foal, which has yet to be named, was born on Thursday to mother Calula and father Sahib at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve in Kessingland near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

It is estimated that there are fewer than 200 mature individuals left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (ICUN) red list of threatened species.

The foal is part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, of which park owner the Zoological Society of East Anglia has been a part since 2004.

Graeme Williamson, head of living collections at Africa Alive Zoological Reserve, said: "We are over the moon with the newest addition to our collection.

"These animals are often underrated and mistaken for a striped-legged donkey, however they are in fact one of the rarest equines in the world.

"Conservation programmes such as the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme are incredibly important for the survival of these species, ensuring that the animals are genetically paired to create healthy populations of critically endangered animals.

"Both mother and foal are doing very well and are visible in the paddock - they are already getting lots of attention from our visitors."

Mother Calula first arrived at Africa Alive in 2007 from Basel Zoo in Switzerland and has given birth to six foals, the last born in 2019.

Two were sired by Sahib who arrived at the park in 2016 from Tierpark, Berlin.

Somali wild asses are found in small patches of the rocky deserts of north-east Africa and their critically endangered ICUN status is a result of war, hunting and habitat loss in the wild.

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