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Posted at 1:50 PM ET, 05/ 5/2010

National Zoo welcomes a new baby

By Washington Post editors

Thumbnail image for National Zoo Oryx.jpg

Officials at the National Zoo announced their latest addition: a scimitar-horned oryx born April 9 at their conservation center in Front Royal, Va.

“Because most of the species we work with are critically endangered or extinct in the wild, each offspring born here is a real treasure and a testament to our scientific efforts,” said Steve Monfort, director of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute. “Each newborn represents hope that their species will survive.”

This is the first time in more than a decade that there has been an oryx birth at the Front Royal campus. Oryx are extinct in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The oryx, a female, weighed 20 pounds at birth.

The birth is good news for the zoo's effort to breed the animals. Last October, two oryx -- a 16-year-old female at the Rock Creek campus and a 17-year-old male at the Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, died after undergoing health exams.

Adult oryx are known for their curved horns that can be up to several feet long, but newborns have small horn buds from which the horns will grow. The mother of the calf is 3-year-old Jena and her father is 13-year-old Dr. Bob. With the calf's recent birth, there are now 16 scimitar-horned oryx at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and one at the zoo in Washington.

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By Washington Post editors  | May 5, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Tags:  Endangered species, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington DC  
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