New foal born at Lowestoft venue

A NEW 'very cute and rare' addition has been welcomed into the world at a Lowestoft zoo. Described as another 'important first' for Africa Alive! the Kessingland venue has been buoyed by the recent birth of a Somali Wild Ass.

A NEW 'very cute and rare' addition has been welcomed into the world at a Lowestoft zoo.

Described as another 'important first' for Africa Alive! the Kessingland venue has been buoyed by the recent birth of a Somali Wild Ass.

The foal was born on June 24 and is the first for his mother Calula, who arrived from Basle zoo in Switzerland in June 2007) and father Stan, who arrived from Marwell Zoo in March 2005.

The Somali Wild Ass is 'Critically Endangered' and with just a few hundred left in the wild the species faces an uncertain future. It is generally believed that less than 300 now remain in their native territory in north-east Africa and none now live in Somalia, the country that they are named after.

Born as part of the European Endangered species breeding Programme, it is vitally important for those collections that hold the species to increase the world-wide population, so the addition of the foal born here at Africa Alive! is extremely important, especially as recent droughts and political turmoil have made it very difficult to assess the current wild populations. With this uncertainty it is vital that we increase the number of Somali Wild Asses born in captivity to help safeguard the species future.

As in the wild, the little colt was born after a gestation period of approximately 380 days (11 months). Foals weigh around 25-30kg. Adults weigh around 250kg.

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Whilst he will suckle from his mother for at least six months, he will start to nibble at grass and hay after just a few days, will be fully independent at about a year and sexually mature at two and a half years old.

'Hopefully, this will be the first of many babies to be born to Stan and Calula and that they will now continue to be not only an important addition to the park but play a crucial role in assisting with the European breeding programme for this species,' a spokesman said.

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