Scimitar oryx

About This Project

Months without drinking…

These elegant oryx have a variety of adaptations which enable them to live in the North African desert. Their light-coloured coat reflects the sunlight, their wide hooves make it easier to walk on sand and their body temperature can get as high as 46°C, reducing the amount of moisture lost from perspiration. This means they can live for several months without drinking!
Badly affected by hunting and by competition from domestic livestock for food and water, this species became extinct in the wild in the 1990s. The individuals held in zoos have enabled reintroduction programmes to get underway… In fact, in 2014 one of our females was sent to join a reintroduction programme in Chad.

At La Barben, the herd of scimitar oryx regularly produces young. They share an enclosure with the Somalia wild asses, another species from the desert.

Species in the EEP
Latin name: Oryx dammah
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Size: 1.8 m long, 1.2 m tall
Weight: 100 – 150 kg
Lifespan: 20 years
Gestation: 8 – 8.5 months
Number of young: 1
Habitat: steppes and desert
Diet: plants, some fruits
Distribution: now extinct in the wild, formerly in North Africa, from Morocco and Senegal to Egypt and Sudan.
Conservation status: extinct in the wild