Scimitar-horned Oryx Humanely Euthanized

The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) humanely euthanized a 10-year-old female scimitar-horned oryx, named Jenna, on June 18. The evening of June 17, animal keepers observed that Jenna was in distress after several hours of trying unsuccessfully to deliver her calf, which appeared to be stuck in the birth canal. In order to assist the birthing process, veterinarians anesthetized Jenna and pulled the calf from his mother, but unfortunately he did not survive. The next morning during a follow-up exam, Jenna lost her footing and was unable to stand. Physical examination by veterinary staff revealed severe, irreparable ligament tears in both rear legs (stifle joints), and the decision was made to humanely euthanize Jenna. SCBI is home to 24 scimitar-horned oryx; visitors to the Smithsonian's National Zoo's Cheetah Conservation Station can view two female oryx on exhibit.

The scimitar-horned oryx, a desert antelope, was declared extinct in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2000. Unregulated hunting was the primary cause of the scimitar-horned oryx's extinction in the wild. Today, however, the threat from largely unregulated pastoral development and habitat loss are major concerns. In August 2016, scimitar-horned oryx were reintroduced to the wild in Chad as a result of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the government of Chad's Scimitar-horned Oryx Reintroduction Program. Researchers from SCBI are monitoring the herd remotely while a team of rangers trained by EAD and the Sahara Conservation Fund monitor the herd on the ground.