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Endangered addax calves born at Orana Wildlife Park

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Two delightful addax calves were born in Christchurch this week. The new arrivals are thought to be the first of their species to be born in New Zealand!

Orana Wildlife Park joined the zoo-based breeding programme for this critically endangered species last year when male Marrakesh was introduced to females Sahara, Zola (the new mums) and Mali. The animals were transferred from Taronga Western Plains Zoo and Werribee Open Range Zoo, Australia.

Exotic Species Manager, Rachael Mason, says "this is a very exciting time for our team. The precious calves are healthy and extremely cute - some of our staff have melted at the sight of the beautiful babies! Both labours were smooth, with one calf even being born in the display habitat. Sahara and Zola, the first time mums, are extremely attentive and protective of their young. Marrakesh is a very proud dad and has been furiously running between the two calves."

Addax are a critically endangered Saharan desert antelope with spectacular twisting horns. The species is on the verge of extinction in the wild; their wild population is estimated to be less than 100 animals due to uncontrolled hunting, poaching plus disturbance from oil exploration. Although rare in the wild, addax are more common in captivity. Approximately 800 are held in zoos around the world in managed breeding programmes. Addax have been successfully reintroduced to protected areas within National Parks in Tunisia and Morocco.

"It is a privilege for us to hold such rare animals. The calves alter the dynamics of the herd, which is something very positive for the addax and the public. The calves provide people with a great opportunity to see and learn about one of the world’s rarest antelope species" concludes Rachael.

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