Scimitar-Horned Oryx

STATUSExtinct in the Wild


DIETGrasses, acacia pods, shrubs, succulent bulbs, wild melons, cucumbers, tubers, fruits, and leaves

RANGENative to sub-Sahara Africa

HABITATSub-desert, annual grassland steppe areas, wooded interdunal depressions, and vegetated ephemeral watercourses

Scimitar-Horned Oryx

Physical Description

Scimitar-Horned Oryx average 4.6 feet tall at the shoulder, and their head and body length is between 4.9 to 7.5 feet. They weigh between 220 to 460 pounds. They are mostly white with reddish brown necks and marks on the face and a long, dark, tufted tail. Their black skin and tip of the tongue protects against sunburn while enlarged hooves enable the oryx to walk easily on sand. Both male and female scimitar-horned oryx have long, ridged, sharp-tipped and curved backwards horns that grow to be several feet long.


In the wild, their predators have included animals such as lions, hyena, leopards, Cape hunting dogs.


Their lifespan in the wild is unknown, but in human care, they have been known to live into their twenties.


They will give birth after an approximately 8 month gestation period and will give birth to one calf, which will weigh 20-33 lb. Calves are weaned at about 4.5 months old.

Fun Facts

  • The oryx is a herd animal that would typically have been found in herds of 20-40 animals with a dominant male; males can be very aggressive toward each other. They sometimes formed herds of over a 1,000 individuals during migrations.
  • Their name comes from the shape of their horns which are curved like Arabian swords called scimitars.

Conservation Messaging

As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facility, the Lehigh Valley Zoo is proud to play a role in the conservation community through participation in Species Survival Plans, or SSPs. This means our Scimitar-horned Oryx are part of a breeding program where we help to maintain captive populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable.

By visiting the Lehigh Valley Zoo and other AZA member institutions, you’re supporting the highest level of animal care and welfare, along with the promotion of conservation of animals such as the Scimitar-horned Oryx.

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