A handsome beisa oryx was the first oryx species shown at the San Diego Zoo. Obtained from the Hagenbeck Zoo in Germany, he arrived in 1954. A male and two female fringe-eared oryx became part of our collection in 1961. Each female produced a calf in 1963, and so began our successful herd. Scimitar-horned oryx arrived in 1969, and by 1972, we had added gemsbok to our animal group at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It was also in 1972 that our first Arabian oryx arrived as part of Operation Oryx, an effort to save this species from extinction.
Today, the Safari Park has large herds of Arabian oryx, fringe-eared oryx, gemsbok, and scimitar-horned oryx. You can see them during an Africa Tram tour or Caravan Safari.
Scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah once ranged across North Africa. Now extinct in the wild, they currently live only in zoos. The good news for the future of these animals is that there are several successful breeding herds in zoos. San Diego Zoo Global has had over 500 scimitar-horned oryx births, a world record! Perhaps one day these animals can return to the wild.
The Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx was endangered. This antelope of the Arabian Peninsula and Sinai Desert became extinct in the wild by the 1960s, mostly due to hunters shooting them with high-powered rifles. To save these animals, nine Arabian oryx from private collections in Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, as well as from the London Zoo, were moved to the Phoenix Zoo in Arizona. These nine oryx became known as the World Herd. A second breeding group of three oryx, from a zoo in Saudi Arabia was started at the Los Angeles Zoo.
As of 2012, 359 Arabian oryx have been born at the Park! In one of the great success stories of conservation, Arabian oryx have been returned to Oman and Jordan for reintroduction in their native range. In 1972, we became a significant partner in the project when six animals arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. They thrived, and soon the Safari Park was home to an entire herd of Arabian oryx. A tremendous milestone was achieved in 1978, when the once nearly extinct species returned to its desert homeland in the Middle East.
As of 2014, 370 Arabian oryx have been born at the Safari Park! In one of the great conservation success stories, 73 Arabian oryx have been returned to Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan for release to protected areas in their native range. The species' status is now listed as vulnerable, rather than endangered, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
You can help us bring oryx and other species back from the brink by supporting the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. Together we can save and protect wildlife around the globe.