The Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx), is a bovid and the smallest member of the Oryx genus. It is native to desert and steppe areas of the Arabian Peninsula. This species was endangered by the early 1970s in the wild, and attempts have been made to build wild populations. With only little success, the species is still endangered and by 2003 only 106 specimens were alive in the wild. Today, there are plans to release 500 Arabian Oryx into the wild over the next 5 years.
The Arabian Oryx stands about 40 inches at the shoulder and weighs only about 155 pounds. Their coats are an almost luminous white, their undersides and legs are brown, and there are black stripes where the head meets the neck, on the forehead, on the nose and going from the horn down through the eye to the mouth. Both sexes have long straight ringed horns which reach just over 20 inches. Arabian Oryx eat buds, grass and leaves.
The Phoenix Zoo is credited with saving the Arabian Oryx from extinction. In 1962 they started the first captive-breeding herd in any zoo. Starting with only 9 animals, the Phoenix Zoo has had over 200 successful births. Oryx were sent to other zoos to start their herds. By 1990, the number of Arabian Oryx had increased to over 1300 including 112 captive bred ones which were reintroduced back to the wild in preserves in their native lands.