Huge thanks to everyone who voted – we won!

June 4, 2024

We are delighted to announce the scimitar-horned oryx will have its own World Animal Day thanks to hundreds of Marwell Wildlife supporters.

The first International Scimitar-horned Oryx Day will be held on 16 August 2025.

Marwell would like to thank everyone that voted in the recent competition run by the British Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

The competition invited BIAZA zoos and aquariums to nominate an overlooked species for an awareness day.

At Marwell, we’ve worked with scimitar-horned oryx since before the gates opened to the public for the very first time in 1972 so nominating them was a natural choice.

Scimitar-horned oryx disappeared from the wild by the end of the 1990’s due to over-hunting and drought but last year the International Union for Conservation of Nature downlisted the species from Extinct in the Wild to Endangered.

The downlisting followed years of conservation efforts from partners around the world, including Marwell Wildlife, to reintroduce the species to protected areas in the wild.

In Marwell’s submission, Dr Tania Gilbert, said: “The scimitar-horned oryx is an exemplar of what we can achieve when we all work together to solve a problem, and demonstrates the very real impact that zoos can have in saving species and their habitats.

“It is a beacon of hope in the midst of global biodiversity and climate crises.”

Whilst most people know about elephants, tigers, lions and penguins, this competition gave the public a chance to vote for some of the less known conservation species.

Scimitar-horned oryx fought off competition from the Andean bear, Somali wild ass and lungfish amongst others before being up against harvest mice in the final.

Thanks to the support of everyone who voted for them, scimitar-horned oryx emerged victorious on Saturday 1 June.

Sophie Whitemore, Marwell Wildlife Zoologist and International Studbook Keeper for the species, said: “We are so pleased that scimitar-horned oryx will be recognised with its own international day.

“Not only will this bring more attention to a threatened antelope species but it will also act as an emblem for other sahelo-saharan species and showcase the important role zoos have in bringing species back from the brink of extinction.”

Dr Jo Judge the CEO of BIAZA said: “Our fun competition has a serious message. We need to appreciate all aspects of nature from the very largest and memorable to the small and forgotten. Nature is in crisis and it needs our help.

“Visitors to zoo and aquarium will know about zebras and lions and sharks, but behind the scenes our member zoos and aquariums are equally dedicated to the little-known species that make up the majority of life on the planet.”