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Zoo Basel Welcomes a Critically Endangered Somali Wild Ass

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A Somali Wild Ass has been born at Zoo Basel in Switzerland! The foal, named Lakisha, was born quickly and easily on March 27. Zoo Basel is a world leader in the conservation of this Critically Endangered species: Lakisha is the forty-first Somali Wild Ass to be born and raised at this zoo since 1972.

Mom Djara gave birth to her foal in the middle of the day. Coming head and front legs first, Lakisha plopped into the straw and was on her feet just half an hour later! It took another half an hour for the filly to nurse from her mother for the first time. No one was present at the birth and Djara could bond with Lakisha in peace.

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Lakisha’s father, Gigolo, has been living at Stuttgart Zoo in Germany since last November. The breeding of Somali Wild Asses in captivity is coordinated by a European Endangered Species Program, helping to ensure that pairings avoid inbreeding and produce healthy offspring. 

The Somali Wild Ass and Nubian Wild Ass are subspecies of the African Wild Ass. According the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are fewer than 1,000 African Wild Asses remaining in the wild. Their major threats are hunting for food and medicinal purposes, and competition with livestock for forage and sources of water.  The Somali subspecies occurs in small populations in Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia.

See more photos after the fold.

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