The Milwaukee County Zoo is excited to announce the addition of three female scimitar-horned oryx to the Adventure Africa habitat and a group of six black-tailed prairie dogs to the North America section. All animals are now in their outdoor habitats, visible to guests.
The oryx, arriving from The Wilds in Cumberland, Ohio, are one of five species of oryx, a type of antelope. Two of the three oryx are half-sisters, named Moza and Zahara. They’re young and still growing at just 1 year old. The third, Babe, is 6 years old. Their new home is in the former elephant yard, where they’ve settled in with very healthy appetites.
Also new to the Zoo, a group of six male prairie dogs are acclimating to their new home in the North America section, in the habitat adjacent to the elk. Animal care staff comment that within hours after arriving from the Minnesota Zoo, the animals started digging their burrows and holes in the habitat. In the wild, prairie dogs live with hundreds of others in these networks of tunnels, and when hungry, they emerge to forage for food. They have excellent vision and hearing which allow them to easily detect predators like coyotes and snakes when aboveground.
The prairie dogs will hopefully hibernate in mid-November, so they need to get their tunnels finished and stabilized for the winter.
Scimitar-horned oryx are a desert and semi-desert species native to North Africa, in the Sahara-Sahel region. Currently extinct in the wild, conservation scientists have started reintroduction projects in Tunisia, Chad, and Niger.
Oryx can range in shoulder height from 3 ½ – 4 ½ feet and weigh between 220-450 pounds. Scimitar oryx are the only oryx whose horns curve backward.
Historically, these social mammals lived in herds of up to 70 individuals, often led by a single male, although they’ve also been spotted in herds of thousands. They feed on grasses, herbs, leaves, and when water is scarce, fruits and vegetables.