double! Keepers at Chester Zoo are celebrating the arrival of two exceptionally
foals arrived within hours of each other to mums Jamila and Zarrin
and dad, Holmes on 4 July after year-long pregnancies.
The onager is an Asiatic wild ass and belongs to the equid family of hoofed
animals, once found in abundance across the deserts of Mongolia, China and
Iran. Now, they are found in just two protected areas and over the past 16
years their numbers have declined by more than 50%.
Tim Rowlands, curator of mammals at
Chester Zoo, said:
“Onagers are the rarest equid species in the
world and one of the rarest animals that we have here at the zoo, so we were
absolutely delighted to have two foals arrive - one male and one female -
during same night!
“Both youngsters are doing very well and mums Jamila and Zarrin are
doing a great job of nurturing and bonding with their new charges.
“We hope the foals themselves will one day go on to contribute to the
international breeding programme for the species, which is working to ensure
there’s a sustainable population in zoos.”
species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature (IUCN), after
suffering at the hands of illegal poaching, overgrazing and disease passed on
from farm animals. Research suggests that only 600 onagers remain in the wild
and very few zoos in the world work with the animals due to the challenges of
breeding and keeping the species.
species’ Latin name is Equus hemionus onager
· Once found in great numbers across the deserts of Asia from
Mongolia and China to India and Iran, onagers are now found in just two
protected areas and are listed as endangered on the International Union for the
Conservation of Nature’s (IUCNs) red list of threatened species
· After suffering badly at the hands of illegal poaching,
overgrazing and disease passed on from farm animals, there are believed to be
around just 600 left in the wild and very few zoos in the world keep the
Chester Zoo is part of an international conservation scheme
and, thanks to the success of a breeding programme is helping to prevent the
beautiful animals from becoming extinct