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Vendredi, 09 Septembre 2011 21:38

Endangered Persian Onager Born at the Smithsonian

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Endangered Persian Onager Born at the Smithsonian

The thin ranks of the endangered Persian onager were joined Sept. 7 by a newborn foal. The unnamed female, appearing strong and healthy, is the first Persian onager to be bred at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in 16 years.

Though resembling donkeys, onagers are desert-dwelling members of the horse family. Originally native to Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel and Tibet, they’re now restricted to two protected areas in Iran. Poaching, drought and grazing competition from domestic livestock have reduced their population to just 600.

With the addition of this new foal, 26 onagers now live in captivity in North America. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is part of a joint effort to establish a healthy breeding population as an insurance against extinction.

Image: Persian onager foal born Sept. 7 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. (Dolores Reed, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute)

Endangered Persian Onager Born at the SmithsonianDanielle Venton is a science writer who fosters a special love for bugs, plants, mountains, books and gorgeous space photos. She likes writing with a fountain pen and hopes to walk across the Himalayas one day.
Follow @DanielleVenton on Twitter.

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