Hampshire wildlife park welcomes newborns of threatened species

Marwell Zoo in Hampshire is celebrating its latest births of threatened species including a Przewalski’s horse foal and a scimitar-horned oryx calf.

Both species became extinct in the wild and became reliant on captive breeding and reintroduction for their survival.

Keepers say the newborn Przewalski’s horse foal and the scimitar-horned oryx calf, the second born in recent weeks, are both thriving.

A Scimitar-Horned Oryx calf Credit: PhotosByGemma

Other new arrivals include a Hartmann’s mountain zebra and a dorcas gazelle calf both classed as ‘Vulnerable’ extinction in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Hartmann's Foal relaxing in the grass Credit: Mark Parris

Director of Conservation, Dr Tim Woodfine, said: “These births are welcome additions to their respective European Ex situ Programmes (EEPs), which are specially managed assurance populations. Our Przewalski’s horse foal and scimitar-horned oryx calf are reminders that these species disappeared from their natural ranges but have since been successfully reintroduced.

Przewalski's horse foal, photo taken in May 2021

  • Przewalski’s horses disappeared from the wild by the end of the 1960s.

  • Marwell played a key role on forming a cooperative breeding programme for this species and planning its reintroduction.

  • They have since provided animals for reintroduction in Mongolia and Hungary, and for grazing management projects in European nature reserves.

The charity recently published its Impact Report for 2020 detailing its work around the world to restore nature, promote sustainable living, and work with communities and governments to help bring about changes needed to help people, wildlife and the wider environment.

Projects include the vital research of reintroduced desert antelope genetics, the reintroduction of one of Britain’s reptiles, the sand lizard community-based conservation initiatives in Africa and Central Asia.

Dr Woodfine, said: “The flexibility and fortitude exhibited by our teams and partners throughout the coronavirus pandemic meant that we achieved much against the odds. The reopening of the zoo is important for generating the income to support our conservation work across the world.”