Rare Somali wild ass born at Zoo Miami

The baby Somali wild ass is ‘just full of spit and fire.’

08/16/2012 5:00 AM

08/16/2012 5:42 PM

Hani is a popular Arabic name that means “full of joy,’’ which perfectly fits one of Zoo Miami’s newest babies.

She’s a rare Somali wild ass, born Aug. 9 to a female named Lisha, who arrived in Miami last year from the San Diego Zoo, already pregnant.

“It’s the only living wild ancestor of today’s modern donkey,’’ said Zoo Miami spokesman Ron Magill. “they’re very small, only 500 to 600 pounds.’’

Another female on loan from San Diego through the Species Survival Plan program, Lusaka, is due any day now.

Completing the Miami “family:’’ a stallion named Hakim, who spends most of his time pestering the females, neither of which has mated with him.

They’re not exactly in the mood now, which means that Hakim gets kicked a lot.

“If you want to see the most endangered wild equine in the world, this is it,’’ Magill said. “There are less than 1,000 remaining in Somalia and surrounding areas. They’ve been hunted for food.’’

Zookeepers aren’t sure how much Hani weighed at birth because her mother was so protective that they couldn’t get in to do a neonatal exam, Magill said, but she seems just fine.

“That thing is full of spit and fire,’’ he said.

The Species Survival Plan is a breeding conservation program involving some 200 zoos that the Association of Zoos & Aquariums says aims to “maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable. [Plan] populations could, if necessary, serve as genetic and/or demographic reservoirs in support of wild populations.’’

Although Hani technically belongs to San Diego, she’ll probably remain in Miami, Magill said, “as part of the herd.’’

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