Return of the Unicorn
There are some who think that the fabled unicorn may actually have been the Arabian oryx. Seen in profile from a distance, it’s true that the antelope’s two horns can easily look like one. Plus, this elusive species was probably never overly plentiful. But when reports in 1960 indicated that there were less than 200 Arabian oryx left in their native habitat, concerned conservationists knew that action was required to keep the species from disappearing completely. Two males and a female were captured and brought to the Phoenix Zoo, where they were joined by six animals from other zoos to form what was termed the World Herd. Three more oryx came from Saudi Arabia to the Los Angeles Zoo. Fortunately, breeding was successful, and by 1972, there were more than 40 Arabian oryx in North America. The Zoological Society of San Diego was then asked to participate, and on November 15, 1972, a group of four males and two females came to the Wild Animal Park to start a third U.S. breeding group. With estimates of less than 100 of these beautiful antelope remaining in the world at the time, the Park and Zoo staff were ready to take on the challenge of making sure this species did not become a mere legend.