Rare Somali wild ass foal born at Kessingland Zoo in Suffolk

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A wold ass foal with an adultImage source, Africa Alive Zoological Reserve
Image caption,
The rare wild ass foal was born to mother Calula and father Sahib

A foal from one of the rarest equine species in the world has been born in the UK.

The Somali wild ass arrived at Africa Alive zoo in Kessingland near Lowestoft, Suffolk.

The foal, which has yet to be named, was born on Thursday to mother Calula and father Sahib.

It is estimated there are fewer than 200 mature creatures left in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The ass is on the IUCN's red list of threatened species, which said the species was often mistaken for stripy-legged donkeys.

The ass is part of the European endangered species breeding programme, which Africa Alive's owner, the Zoological Society of East Anglia, has been part of since 2004.

Image source, Africa Alive Zoological Reserve
Image caption,
The rare Somali wild ass foal (left) was born at a zoo in Suffolk

Graeme Williamson, head of living collections at the zoo, said: "These animals are often underrated.

"Conservation programmes are incredibly important for the survival of these species, ensuring that the animals are genetically paired to create healthy populations of critically endangered animals.

"Both mother and foal are doing very well and are visible in the paddock - they are already getting lots of attention from our visitors."

Calula arrived at Africa Alive in 2007 from Basel Zoo in Switzerland, and has given birth to six foals, the last born in 2019.

Two were sired by Sahib who arrived at the park in 2016 from Tierpark, Berlin.

Somali wild asses are found in the rocky deserts of north-east Africa and their critically endangered status is a result of hunting and habitat loss in the wild, exacerbated by human conflict in the sub-region.

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