Pickles is an arrival to relish in Kessingland
PUBLISHED: 16:24 11 February 2011
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SHE may look little different to any cute, young foal – save the tell-tale stripes on her legs.
But Pickles, as she has been named by her keepers, is a new arrival to relish.
Since her birth recently at Africa Alive! in Kessingland, the Somali Wild Ass has been closely watched and tended by staff at the park who are all too aware that her species is now threatened with extinction in the wild.
With fewer than 300 of the animals now living in their native territory in north-east Africa – and none in war-torn Somalia – the Somali Wild Ass is classified Critically Endangered, and, like many other species, they are hunted for food and for traditional medicine.
Born as part of the European endangered species breeding programme, which aims to safeguard the worldwide population, Pickles and her parents Calula and Stan are regarded as extremely important to the survival of their species.
A spokesman for Africa Alive! said: “We are very proud for Stan and Calula, as it is extremely important that they continue to play a crucial role in assisting with the European breeding programme for this endangered species.
“Recent droughts and political turmoil have made it very difficult to assess the current wild population. 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, Pickles’ arrival in September followed a gestation period of approximately 380 days.
At birth, she weighed around 25kg – just 10pc of the 250kg she will weigh as an adult – and while she will suckle from her mother for at least six months, she is already nibbling at grass and hay and will be fully independent at about a year old.
Calula came to Africa Alive! from Basle Zoo in Switzerland in June 2007 and Stan arrived from Marwell Zoo in March 2005.
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