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Dallas Zoo Welcomed 2 Rare Somali Wild Ass Foals in July

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Born just 10 days apart, the Dallas Zoo has welcomed two new and very rare foals from a successful Somali wild ass breeding within their Species Survival Plan. Born on July 9, Kalila (meaning “dearly loved” in Arabic) is the third foal to mother Liberty and father Abai, but the first of theirs to be born in Dallas. And following that, on July 19, Naima (meaning “calm” in Arabic) was born to first-time mother Hani and father Abai.

Dallas Zoo Welcomes Two Rare Somali Wild Ass Foals in July

Photo: Wikimedia

Dallas Morning News reported that John Fried, mammal curator at the Dallas Zoo, identified in a written statement, “This is a big moment for our hoofstock team. Somali wild asses are critically endangered with less than 600 left in the wild. Only nine institutions in the U.S. care for this rare species, and to be able to welcome two babies is truly one of the highlights of my career.” Having been hunted for food in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, Somali wild asses also compete with other livestock in their native countries for water and land resources. They have also been killed for the belief that their fat treats tuberculosis, and so they’re also hunted for medicinal purposes.

Dallas Zoo Welcomes Two Rare Somali Wild Ass Foals in July

Photo: Wikimedia

Species Survival Plan for the Somali wild ass through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is aimed at increasing their numbers while in human care. They can grow to approximately 4 feet at shoulder height, and weigh roughly 600 pounds. Kalila was born weighing 65 pounds, and Naima was 51 pounds at birth. Looking somewhat like a cross between several species, the Somali wild ass has zebra-striped legs, a face resembling a donkey or horse, and a body that’s gray in color. They also have small hooves which nature designed for them to effectively navigate rocky slopes. Nursing, standing, and walking, the foals are presently bonding with their moms behind the scenes at the Dallas Zoo, and when ready, they’ll be introduced to their habitat in what’s called the Wilds of Africa, joining the addax, ostriches, and gemsbok just off the monorail.

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