'Incredibly rare' African wild ass born at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire

Footage from Marwell Zoo

One of the world's rarest animals, an African wild ass, has been born at Marwell Zoo near Winchester in Hampshire.

The species has been on the critically endangered list since 1996.

Keepers have described the foal as "an extremely important addition" to the zoo.

Credit: Marwell Zoo

The foal which is "very strong and active" was born to first-time parents Jahzahra and Lars.

The species inhabit Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia and there are estimated to be fewer than 600 in the wild.

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. We're all very proud that mother and foal are doing so well.

Ian Goodwin, Animal Collection Manager

Staff are also celebrating the birth of two other foals - Hartmann's mountain zebras.

They say it's important, as the zoo populations are an "important backup" for the conservation of the species. 

Credit: Marwell Zoo

The first was born on Aug 6 to Dayimani and Davu and the second was born to Dorotka and Davu on Aug 10.

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 which could wipe out more than 30% of the wild population.