West Palm Beach, FL – Amidst the buzz of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new arrival, Lion Country Safari welcomed its own baby and while it may not be royal, it is a very special birth. A Scimitar-horned oryx calf, the second calf to join the herd this year, was born on Monday, May 6th, 2019. This calf, a 19-pound (8.6kg) male, is visible in a maternity area, where it will spend some quality time with mom before joining the rest of the herd. Lion Country Safari now cares for a herd of 26 of these antelope.
Scimitar-horned oryx have been classed as “Extinct in the Wild” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 2000. The rare species’ reproduction is part of Lion Country Safari’s participation in a number of Species Survival Plans (SSPs), a series of conservation and breeding programs for threatened and endangered species overseen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Due to overhunting and habitat loss in the wild, Scimitar-horned oryx have declined until the last wild herds disappeared in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. All remaining groups of the species are managed, cared for, or protected by humans. Reintroduction efforts began in 2016 to try to reestablish the population in Africa, with about 100 oryx currently being closely monitored in a reserve in Chad. Healthy, genetically viable populations are crucial to reintroduction efforts such as this one.
At birth, oryx calves weigh approximately 15 to 20 pounds (6.8-9.1 kg), but as adults, can weigh up to 350