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World Animal Day: Zoo announces birth of an extinct-in-the-wild oryx

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By Francisco Marques
A Scimitar-Orix at Lisbon Zoo
A Scimitar-Orix at Lisbon Zoo   -   Copyright  Lisbon Zoo   -  

Lisbon Zoo has marked World Animal Day by announcing the birth of an oryx that was previously declared extinct in the wild.

The scimitar oryx, once widespread across North Africa, has suffered in the face of hunting, drought and desertification. 

"The zoo has a very big role, almost as if it were a Noah's Ark," said Diogo Gomes, a biologist at the zoo.

"We have males and females here and we have the chance, after the catastrophe that is the extinction of this animal in its habitat, to have a last hope for this species.

"We can never forget that, despite being under our care, they are wild animals and need to have these wild behaviours preserved.

"This is done with environmental enrichment techniques, which are fundamental so that, later on in the process, reintroductions can be made. 

"In other words, take these animals and take them to their habitat. 

"If they are not wild animals, they will not have the capacity to adapt to this new home that is, in the end, their home."

Today -- 4 October -- is World Animal Day, a chance to reflect on the extinction clock. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, more than 41,000 species of animals and plants are under threat or 28% of all existing species.