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#4987 Scimitar-horned Oryx - Artis Royal Zoo Amsterdam (Holland)

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Scimitar-horned Oryx at the Artis Royal Zoo (also known as Natura Artis Magistra), Amsterdam (Holland)

The Scimitar Oryx or Scimitar-horned Oryx, also known as the Sahara Oryx, is a species of Oryx now extinct in the wild. It formerly inhabited all of North Africa. It has a long taxonomic history since its discovery in 1816 by Lorenz Oken, who named it the Oryx Algazel. The coat is white with a red-brown chest and black markings on the forehead and down the length of the nose. The calves are born with a yellow coat, and the distinguishing marks are initially absent. The coats change to adult colouration at 3–12 months old. The Scimitar Oryx was once widespread in northern Africa. Its decline began as a result of climate change, and later it was hunted extensively for its horns. Today, it is bred in captivity in special reserves in Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal. The Scimitar Oryx was domesticated in Ancient Egypt and is believed to have been used as food and sacrificed as offerings to gods. Wealthy people in Ancient Rome also bred them. The use of their valuable hides began in the Middle Ages.
The unicorn myth may have originated from sightings of a Scimitar Oryx with a broken horn.

Matthijs van Wageningen
Created on
Tuesday 5 June 2018
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