Fun Arabian Oryx Facts For Kids

Oluniyi Akande
May 12, 2023 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed
Arabian oryx facts about a mammal that was extinct in the wild back in 1972.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.4 Min

Do you know a desert mammal that resembles a unicorn? Let us study some of the Arabian oryx's fascinating features famous for its beauty, structure, and stamina.

This white oryx is an inspiration for many poets and has a prominent place in the history of the Arabian peninsula. The Arabian oryx is primarily found in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and prefers desert areas.

With the scientific name Oryx leucoryx, the wild Arabian oryx can survive in hot climates where water and food sources are scarce. These white oryx stand in the herd sideways to scare the predators to appear larger.

Their body is designed in such a way that it adapts to extremely hot climates and chilled weather. They dig shallow ditches to relax in cooler sand during the hot day.

The main threats to these oryx are illegal hunting and poaching. Though hunting is illegal, there is a massive demand for meat, longhorns, and hides.

Go through the Arabian oryx facts for kids and adults alike below to know more about this graceful desert species. To know more about similar species, refer to our other articles on the antelope and nyala.

Arabian Oryx Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an Arabian oryx?

The wild oryx is a well-structured and big deserted mammal that can survive in hot, extreme climates.

What class of animal does an Arabian oryx belong to?

The oryx is a bovine that belongs to the mammal class and is one of the largest desert animals in the Arabian region.

How many Arabian oryxes are there in the world?

Because of the Arabian oryx reintroduction efforts (1982), these wild oryx positions have changed from extinct in the wild to endangered. There are almost 1220 individuals spread in the Arabian peninsula, and 6000-7000 of its populations are found in zoos and private collections under captivity around the world.

Where does an Arabian oryx live?

As the national animal of several Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Jordan, it can be found in the Middle East, including the Arabian Peninsula and Israel. It is located in the countries like Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and Qatar.

What is an Arabian oryx's habitat?

The Arabian oryx habitat is hot deserts. They are also found in dunes, wadis, stony plains, and sand areas. They can survive in severe hot climates with high hot winds, low rainfall, and soaring temperatures.

Who do Arabian oryxes live with?

The group of this wild oryx is called a herd. They are widely found in small herds with a minimum of 8-10 animals. Sometimes they are found in bigger groups ranging from 100 animals. But the males are solitary individuals found in herds only during mating season.

How long does an Arabian oryx live?

In the wild, Arabian oryx can survive up to 20 years under safe conditions in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

The reproduction type in Arabian oryx is sexual reproduction. The males try to give some physical signals to the females and wait for female acceptance to mate. These oryxes do not have any particular season for breeding.

Most of the female oryxes give birth during May and December. The gestation period of this species is 240 days. The young one runs as soon as it is born.

But the mother keeps the young one away from the herd for a couple of weeks. It feeds on the mother's milk for two and a half months. The young one gets weaned by 4.5 months of age and reaches sexual maturity at two years.

What is their conservation status?

The Arabian oryx conservation status is Vulnerable. It was the first species recorded in history, which is upgraded from Extinct to Vulnerable. Once extinct in the wild, it achieved a Vulnerable status because of the extreme steps taken by different countries to save these precious threatened species.

Arabian Oryx Fun Facts

What do Arabian oryx look like?

Arabian oryx has a white coat and dark brown legs. It has black markings on its face that extended down the jawline. Their skin has no reflection or glare, so their predators from far can't detect it.

Like any other oryxes, they have incredibly long horns on their head. It has a distinct should bump, and a tail(1.5-2 ft) always moves even if the animal is in rest mode. Dark patches of hair are found on the forehead and bridge of the nose.

An Arabian oryx on dry land.

How cute are they?

These animals are known for their stamina, and defensive nature. Rather than considered cute, this oryx is considered a magnificent creature that symbolizes wisdom and strength.

How do they communicate?

Almost all the animals in the mammals class use acoustic means of communication, tactile communication. These oryxes have excellent hearing and smelling skills. They can detect the rainfall, which is almost 50 mi away, and the female head leads the herd to eat grasses sprouted because of fresh rainwater.

How big is an Arabian oryx?

The height of this Arabian oryx is almost 39 in (1 m) high to the shoulder. The idle weight of male Arabian oryx is 143-165 lb (65-75 kg), whereas the weight of females is 119-154 lb (54-70 kg). Both have long, sharp horns with 20-30 in (50-75 cm).

How fast can an Arabian oryx run?

To escape from its predators (jackals, lions), it runs at the speed of 37 mph (59.5 kph).

How much does an Arabian oryx weigh?

The idle weight of male Arabian oryx is 143-165 lb (65-75 kg), whereas the weight of female Arabian oryx is 119-154 lb (54-70 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male Arabian oryx is known as a buck or ram, and the female Arabian oryx is named a doe or dam. For dominance, the male oryx will use the horns for fighting. Females have relatively long horns than males, which are almost 30 in (76.2 cm) long.

What would you call a baby Arabian oryx?

The baby Arabian oryx is called lamb and lambskin.

What do they eat?

Arabian oryx are herbivores.They mainly prefer to eat grasses. The Arabian oryx diet also consists of tubers, roots, tree bark, and herbs that are available in desert regions.

They can lead their lives without drinking water for long periods but makes sure to drink when they find any water resource. They prefer to eat their food in the early mornings and late afternoons when the temperature is average.

Are they dangerous?

Though horns signify hidden protective quality, they are not aggressive. It is not dangerous but attacks when necessary. Oryx horns are useful for predator defense when attacked.

Would they make a good pet?

Because of the huge structure and sharp horns, it is not good to tame this desert oryx. They can be safely guarded in the zoo and safari parks.

Did you know...

The Arabian name of this indigenous mammal is Al Maha, and it is the logo of Qatar Airways.

How do Arabian oryxes survive in the desert?

The Arabian oryx adaptations to help it survive in the desert are amazing. Living in a habitat of desert areas, the Arabian oryx body structure supports them to survive in scorching temperatures (over 45 degrees) and drought areas.

As they are white, their color helps to reflect the heat in extremely hot temperatures, and in extremely cold weather, their skin locks the heat and keeps their body warm. In winter, their legs change into dark colors to absorb more heat.

Why is the Arabian oryx important, and how can we save the Arabian oryx?

Being a national animal of the United Arab Emirates, the Arabain oryx is an important species to conserve. This oryx symbolizes protection, to protect ourselves and our loved ones when needed. It is considered a spiritual guide.

This peaceful wild species teaches us to be calm and respond quickly when a situation demands it. People of Oman believe that this antelope resembles the mythical creature unicorn. Providing the proper environment to survive and banning hunting may save these valuable species.

Operation Oryx:

Four decades ago, this animal was widely spread in the Arabian peninsula but became extinct in the wild because of hunting for meat and horns. The second world war resulted in the availability of automatic rifles and high-speed automobiles.

This scenario encouraged the hunting of these animals in the Arabian peninsula, which resulted in a drastic reduction of this species. By 1965, only 500 Arabian oryxes were left in the wild, and as per sources, the last wild individual was killed in 1972.

In 1950, a captive herd was established in Saudi Arabia. Operation Oryx was launched in 1961 when a small number of animals were shifted to zoos for captive breeding.

By 1962 some Arabian oryxes were exported to the USA, where the breeding program was mainly carried out. The breeding program is also facilitated in other European zoos and Phoenix Zoo (Arizona).

The Phoenix Zoo started with nine animals and has seen 240 successful births. To save this endangered species, a reintroduction program was set up in 1982 in Oman with 10 animals at the Arabian Oryx sanctuary.

This oryx has been reintroduced back from extinction because of all the efforts and we can now see a good number of Arabian oryxes in the wild and in zoos (San Diego Zoo owns a good number of these species). The conservation of the Arabian oryx is a success story and inspiration for other threatened species.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals, including the greater kudu or saiga antelope.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our Arabian oryx coloring pages.

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Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

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Fact-checked by Abdulqudus Mojeed

Bachelor of Law

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Abdulqudus MojeedBachelor of Law

A versatile professional with a passion for creative writing and technology. Abdulqudus is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Law from the University of Lagos and has experience as a tutor, intern assistant, and volunteer. He possesses strong organizational skills and is a detail-oriented person.

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