Aoudad (pronounced "aw-dad") are the only wild sheep found in Africa, but they can also be found free-ranging in U.S. states like California, New Mexico, and Texas. This is a result of the species being brought to America in the early 1900s for zoo exhibits. Their success in captivity ultimately resulted in excess animals; these individuals were then used to establish populations on private and public lands.
Aoudad are short and relatively stocky sheep with dusty tan hair. They sport a fringe of very long, soft hair that hangs from their throat and midsection like a beard, and large curved horns. Their eyes feature horizontal pupils surrounded by bright yellow irises. Both males and females sport horns and fringe, although the two features tend to be more pronounced in males.
Aoudads’ build is ideal for rocky cliffs and dry mountainous terrain. They will try to seek out shade during the heat of the day, however, they are naturally tolerant of both extremely hot and cold temperatures. They are very agile climbers and powerful jumpers, with pointed, upright hooves that help them to balance in precarious locations other animals would normally avoid. If an aoudad is in captivity, a fence needs to be approximately 10 feet tall to ensure they will not be able to clear it.
Aoudads spend much of their time grazing and browsing. They are able to get much of their water from the plants they eat and can go around five days without a drink. While they occasionally may try to dominate or compete with smaller hoofstock, Aoudads are tolerant of most other hoofed animals and are a generally social species.
Fossil Rim not only houses generic aoudads, but also a subspecies known as the Kordofan aoudad. Kordofan are slightly lighter in color, with a longer nose and eyes spaced a little further apart. Their beard is also a bit more blonde than their generic counterparts. While generic aoudad are not endangered, Kordofan are, which is why Fossil Rim supports the subspecies here on property.
Where are they?
Aoudad live in the fourth pasture you enter. They will often be along the road, but are one of the species most likely to be up on Cheetah Hill, as well.
If you do not see aoudad in the lower, flat part of the pasture, keep an eye out for them as you head up the hill. They may be hiding out on rocky inclines.
Species Survival Plan
Desert, dry mountainous
Grasses, bushes and herbs
Originally Native To
North Africa, Morocco and Western Sahara to Egypt and Sudan
Sheep with long fringe from throat and forequarters; semicircular horns on both sexes
Wild 10 years
Small family groups