Endangered, Wild Asses Make Debut at Cleveland Zoo

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A subspecies of the Asiatic wild ass debuts at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. (Photo credit: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Yes, you read the headline correctly.

Two female Asiatic wild asses, formally known as Persian onagers, arrived at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo this week.

The mother-daughter duo came from a private conservation center in southern Ohio and will be the first of their kind exhibited at the zoo. That’s a special thing since there are less than 1,000 Persian onagers left in the wild.

“Onagers in zoos serve as an insurance policy against catastrophic loss in the wild, and their arrival at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo signifies the efforts of zoos in Ohio and around the world to work together to promote the long-term sustainability and survival of this endangered species,” said zoo research curator, Dr. Mandi Vick.

The population of the endangered subspecies is mainly concentrated in areas of Iran, but it continues to dwindle due to poaching and loss of habitat. Zoo officials said Vick hopes to use a ground-breaking technique to increase breeding efforts and boost the population.

If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of these donkey look-alikes, head down to the zoo’s Northern Trek.

No rush, though.

The onagers are adapted to living in extreme temperatures, so they’ll be on display year-round.

*For more information on the new zoo residents, click HERE.