Chester Zoo in England is celebrating the arrival of a very special foal: a rare Onager. The unnamed male was born to first time mom Zarrin on June 10. Tim Rowlands, Curator of Mammals, said, “Our young Onager is doing very, very well and Zarrin is proving to be a natural mother."
Related to the domestic donkey, the onager is an Asiatic Wild Ass, which lives in the semi-desert regions of Iran. Once common in most of the central and southern plains of Iran, Onagers are now found in just two protected areas. Threatened by illegal poaching, overgrazing and disease passed from domestic livestock, there are believed to be around just 400 left in the wild and very few zoos in the world keep the species.
However, Chester is part of an international conservation scheme and thanks to the success of a breeding program is helping to ensure these beautiful animals are not lost forever. "The species is critically endangered and so the new foal is a valuable addition to the safety net population found in zoos," Rowlands added. "Sadly, as the rarest species of equid in the world, there is a very real possibility that they could become extinct in the wild and so constant conservation attention is required to secure the future of the species.”