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Arabian Oryx

Oryx leucOryx

Arabian Oryx

Range:
Historically the Arabian Oryx ranged over most of the Arabian Peninsula, the Sinai Peninsula, Israel, Jordan and Iraq. Today, the Arabian Oryx lives only in special protected reserves in Oman, Saudi because of extinction in the wild.

Habitat:
Arabian Oryx prefers areas possessing gravel plains and fringes of sand desert.

Size:
Height at shoulders: 40 in; Weight: 120-150lbs

Young:
They only have one calf at a time.

Gestation:
255-260 days.

Diet (wild):
Grazer: succulent grasses, young shoots, shrubs, and numerous tuberous desert plants.

Diet (zoo):
Alfalfa hay

Life spans:
Up to 20 years in both the wild and captivity

Status:
Endangered; once one of the rarest animals in the world. Because of captive breeding, their number has increased.

Threats:
Hunting was the primary reason for the demise of the wild Arabian Oryx. Its meat and hide were prized, as were its lengthy horns. The Northern herd was extirpated in the 1940's and with the availability of military-surplus equipment, sport hunters using four-wheel-drive vehicles, claimed the last of the wild Arabian Oryx in Arabia in the 1960's.

Anatomy/Physiology:
The Arabian Oryx is a graceful white antelope notable for its long straight horns. It is deer-sized and has black markings on its legs and face. It has moderately long legs with broad hooves for running on sand. Excellent peripheral vision for the detection of predators. The Arabian Oryx looses excessive body heat by sweating or by allowing its body temperature to rise higher than of ambient air. This allows the animal to radiate heat to the environment. During this process, the brain is protected from the higher temperatures by cool blood returning from the nasal passages; absorbing heat from warm arterial blood destine for the brain.

Social/Family units:
Oryx are found in herds of up to 15 individuals, which center on an adult bull, several adult cows and their offspring. Arabian Oryx tend to maintain visual contact with other herd members, subordinate males taking positions between the main body of the herd and outlying females. If separated, males will search areas where the herd last visited, settling into a solitary existence until the herd's return. Where water and grazing conditions permit, male Oryx establish territories. Bachelor males are solitary.

Habits:
Walks for hours at a time. They occasionally dig holes under rocks and bushes with their horns and hooves for shade and to hide from potential predators. They can exist for weeks without water.

Communication:
Snorts, grunts, and moo-like bleats. They mostly use body posture for communication.

Defensive/Aggressive behavior:
Both sexes have long horns, which are used in duels to establish position within the hierarchy, and to defend against predators.

Prey:
succulent grasses, young shoots, shrubs, and numerous tuberous desert plants

Predators:
Man and wolves

Locomotion:
Quadrupedal. Noted as a prodigious wanderer in search of pasture. One animal was recorded as walking 58 miles in 18 hours.

Activity:
Not active during the day.

Any interesting story/fact:
The Phoenix Zoo is credited with saving the Arabian Oryx from extinction. In 1962 they started the first captive-breeding herd in any zoo. Starting with only 9 animals, the Phoenix Zoo has had over 200 successful births. Oryx were sent to other zoos to start their herds. By 1990, the number of Arabian Oryx had increased to over 1300 including 112 captive bred ones which were reintroduced back to the wild in preserves in their native lands.