Say hello to the UK’s only beisa oryx

November 25, 2022

An Endangered beisa oryx resting on grass at Marwell Zoo

We recently welcomed two Endangered beisa oryx making us the only zoo in the UK where this rare animal can be seen!

Both of the new arrivals, Shango and Nago, are male but it is hoped that in time females can be brought in with a view to breeding as part of the ex-situ EEP breeding programme*.

Oryx are members of the antelope family and are well-adapted to living in arid areas; in fact, they can live for several weeks without drinking water.

Both the males and the females have horns, but only the males use them to fight for mating rights. Both males and females use their horns to defend themselves from predators and establish hierarchy.

Beisa oryx numbers in the wild are thought to have declined 52% in the last 18 years from 34,000 in the mid-1990s to just 16,000-18,000 now.

Formerly widely seen in the semi-arid and arid bushland and grasslands of North-East Africa, the species is now mainly limited to Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, and north-eastern Tanzania.

The species is under threat as a result of hunting and the population continues to decrease in the wild.

If you’re visiting the zoo, you can find these stunning animals down the road past okapi playground.

*EEP stands for ‘European Endangered Species Breeding Programme’. They aim to conserve healthy populations of endangered animals in captivity. Find out more about how zoo breeding programmes work in our video below!