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  • Arabische oryx in Zoo Zurich.

    Arabian oryx

    Oryx leucoryx

    The Arabian oryx is perfectly adapted to life in dry areas. The light color of its fur reflects the sun's rays and thus protects it from the heat. Without suffering any harm, the animals can raise their body temperature to 46.5 degrees Celsius in high heat and lower it to as low as 36 degrees during cool nights. To reduce fluid loss, their feces are very dry and urine is very concentrated. When dew forms on the animals' fur during the cool desert nights, the animals lick the water off and get some of the drinking water they need. The Arabian oryx was on the verge of extinction. In 1960, the population was estimated at about 200 animals. In 1972 the last animal was poached in Oman. Two years earlier, the U.S. zoos of Phoenix and Los Angeles started a breeding program. Only nine animals were available for this purpose. However, the breeding was successful and so single animals could be brought to Europe in 1979. The Berlin-Friedrichsfelde Zoo (then in the GDR), Zoo Antwerp and Zoo Zurich were the first to receive Arabian Oryx from the USA. Zoo Zurich received a total of six animals, which formed the basis of a successful breeding program. From 1982, the first animals born in zoos could be released into the wild. Arabian oryx bred at Zoo Zurich reached Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 1993. Nowadays the population is estimated at over 8000 animals. This conservation success is thanks to some far-sighted zoo directors.

    Taxonomy Even-toed ungulates, ruminants, bovids, grazing antelopes, oryxes (6 species)
    Habitat semi-deserts and deserts
    Activity pattern diurnal, migrates in areas with fresh vegetation
    Social structure mixed-sex herds with up to 10 animals, rarely in herds with up to 100 animals, bucks temporarily on the move as loners
    Diet grasses, herbs, ground crops
    Weight 60 to 80 kg, newborns 6 kg
    Shoulder height 80 to 100 cm
    Horns both sexes, 50 to 75 cm long
    Gestation time 255 to 265 days
    Litter size 1 young
    Age at sexual maturity 2 to 3 years
    Life expectancy 20 years
    Commerce meat and as hunting trophy, national symbol in Jordan, Arab Emirates and Qatar
    Current population stable, 7000 animals in zoos, about 1000 animals released or in large outdoor enclosures in Israel, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar
    At Zoo Zurich since 1979, from 1979 to 2015 a total of 99 young animals, internationally coordinated breeding (EEP)


    Verbreitungskarte Arabische Oryx

    Animal sound


    A. Brunner, Dagmersellen
    H. Zysset, Affoltern am Albis
    L. Hintermann, Zürich
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    Conservation status

    IUCN RedList