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zebra_fly_sm_wht.gif (6530 bytes)The antelopes, deer, and various other hoofed animals like camels, giraffes, pigs, and horses include some of the rarest and most endangered animals on earth. The Red Book of Endangered Species includes Grevy’s zebra and Hartmann’s mountain zebra, Przewalski’s horse, the Malayan tapir, babirusa, vicugna, Formosan sika deer, addax, Barbary sheep, dama gazelle, lechwe, gaur, anoa, Arabian and scimitar-homed oryx, and markhor all on the endangered list. They are all present in zoos, and most of them are doing fairly well.

In many ways zoos are in a good position to serve the grazing animals. For a start these animals are always likely to be at some risk in the wild because the majority of them are edible, and many of then are prized by hunters who still like to prove their prowess by gunning down a deer. Secondly, they are relatively easy for zoos to accommodate. You don’t need too many purpose-built concrete edifices to house a herd of deer, just a spacious field, and some rudimentary stabling. Most (but not all) species fare better in a herd, often the larger the better, and although there are veterinary problems that many species encounter, in general the management problems that grazing animals present tend to be issues like what to do with surplus males.

Oryx.gif (123096 bytes)Zoos have a long and enviable reputation for their keeping of hoofed animals. Pere David’s deer were rescued from extinction by the eleventh Duke of Bedford in his deer park at Wobum and have since been sent back to a reserve in China by Wobum, Whipsnade and Chester Zoos; scimitar-homed oryx were bred and reintroduced into the wild by Marwell, Whipsnade and Edinburgh Zoos; Phoenix Zoo in Arizona spearheaded a magnificent project  to breed and reintroduce Arabian oryx to the wild in Jordan; and several zoos are now looking at the possibility of sending Prezwalski’s horses back to Mongolia. The record of cooperation is encouraging, and gives hope not only for future reintroduction projects with hoofed mammals, but with every other group of animals as well.

Zoos that specialise in grazing mammals will usually be spacious, and will keep large and healthy herds. Look out for them.


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Editor: Jon Clarke    Research: John and Sue Ironmonger, Ray Heaton, and the readers of goodzoos.com   Illustrations by G.L.Grandy. Thanks to John Ironmonger for the original idea of GoodZoos.com.

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