Critically endangered Somali wild ass foal born at Woburn Safari Park
Woburn Safari Park has welcomed a new Somali wild donkey foal, which the keepers named Vusumuzi.
The young male – born July 11 to mom Tawa and dad Quentin – suckled and got up a few hours after birth.
Vusumuzi, named to honor the species’ African heritage, wasted no time exploring its new surroundings under the watchful eye of its mother, who keepers described as caring and loving.
The birth of the foal shows how effective breeding programs can be in safeguarding the future of critically endangered species, such as the Somali wild ass.
Vusumuzi’s dad, Quentin, was born at Woburn Safari Park in 2016, while mum Tawa arrived at the park from Berlin in 2019.
Somali wild donkeys are predominantly gray in color, with a white belly and short, straight mane.
Their most distinctive features are the black horizontal stripes on their paws, and Vusumuzi has very similar markings to its parents.
Tom Robson, Deputy Team Leader, Reserves, said: “The Somali wild ass is on the verge of extinction, so the arrival of this young colt after a healthy one year pregnancy is a very eventful event. special.
“Tawa has been a great mother before and we have all seen that Vusumuzi is eating well.
“We know visitors will love to see the colt when exploring the Road Safari route, as they are delightfully energetic youngsters and can often be seen prancing with excitement.
“We can’t wait to see Vusumuzi grow into a strong individual, just like his mother, but we also want him to help us raise awareness of the plight of the species in general.”
The future of the Somali wild ass
Woburn Safari Park is an EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) accredited zoo and participates in the European Endangered Species Program (EEP), which manages the breeding of endangered species in captivity.
The EEP is managed by a species coordinator, assisted by a committee to match individual animals and ensure high genetic diversity in captive populations.
It is believed that there are less than 1,000 Somali wild donkeys left in the wild, so each new birth helps reduce the threat of extinction.
The numbers of these wild populations have declined for several reasons, including hunting for food and use in traditional medicine, habitat loss, and competition with domestic livestock for grazing and water resources.
Unfortunately, the species that was once widely distributed in North Africa is now only found in scattered populations in Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
This makes every birth, like the arrival of Vusuzumi, even more vital to the survival of the species.