Rare Oryx Born At Marwell

10 December 2013, 08:56 | Updated: 10 December 2013, 08:57

Marwell zoo is celebrating the birth of an Arabian oryx, a species which was once Extinct in the wild.

This birth marks another important step forward in the conservation and re-introduction efforts of the species. Keepers have named the little calf Lawrence and the youngster is proving to be a strong character. 

He was born to seven year old Mum Renee, who arrived at Marwell in January. 

Lawrence is now four weeks old and can regularly be seen bounding around his paddock. Ian Goodwin is a Collection manager at the zoo. 

He also produces the International Studbook for Arabian oryx and co-ordinates the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP). 

He said: 


"We are delighted by this birth because not only are the young oryx great to watch as they explore their new surroundings but this male calf was born to the most genetically important male in the program. He is very important for the future of the Arabian oryx program.

"There is still some way to go to help this species thrive in the wild. Building up and maintaining genetically healthy populations of animals such as this is very important. A studbook and breeding programme ensure as much genetic variation in the captive population as possible."


Arabian oryx were once widespread on the Arabian Peninsula, reaching into Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Syria and Sinai in Egypt. 

Tragically, the last wild oryx was shot in 1972 and the species persisted only in captivity for a decade. They were classified as Extinct in the wild. 

However, thanks to re-introduction efforts, wild populations are appearing again and they are now classified as Vulnerable in the wild. 

In 1982 the first Arabian oryx were reintroduced to Oman, where their numbers increased over the next two decades. 

Wild populations can now be found in Israel, Oman and Saudi Arabia and more re-introductions are set to take place thanks to captive breeding efforts. 

Arabian oryx facts:

-They have straight horns that can reach up to 68 centimetres in length. 

-Calves are brown with markings on their tail and knees. 

-Females give birth to a single calf and they are weaned after three and a half months of age.