A record five Somali Wild Ass foals were born between August 19 and October 15 at the Saint Louis Zoo, making a significant addition to the zoo population of these critically endangered animals. Only 51 Somali Wild Asses live in zoos, with 11 at the Saint Louis Zoo.
Meet the foals:
- A male named Hirizi (Swahili for charm or amulet) weighed 48 pounds at birth.
- A female named Farah (which means joy or cheerfulness) weighed 58 pounds at birth.
- A female named Luana (which means enjoyment) weighed 53 pounds at birth.
- A male named Tristan (which means clever one) 66.5 pounds at birth.
- A male named Rebel weighed 52 pounds at birth.
The father of all five foals is Abai, who came from Switzerland’s Basel Zoo in 2005. Abai has had a total of nine offspring born at the Saint Louis Zoo.
The Somali Wild Ass is a critically endangered member of the Horse family, with only 1,000 individuals surviving in desert areas of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. An expanding human population, subsistence hunting, and poitical unrest in the region threaten the Somali Wild Ass’s future.
The youngsters have the same markings as their parents – gray body, white belly, and horizontal black stripes on the legs, similar to Zebras.
The Somali Wild Ass is the smallest of all wild Horses, Asses and Zebras. Adults stand about four feet tall at the shoulder and weigh about 600 pounds. Long, narrow hooves—the narrowest of any wild horse -- enable the animals to be swift and surefooted in their rough, rocky habitat.
See more photos below the fold.