Species Survival Plan
Desert, dry mountainous
Mountain lion, leopard, caracal, coyote and man
Grasses, bushes and herbs
Originally Native To
North Africa, Morocco and Western Sahara to Egypt and Sudan
36 inches at shoulder
Male 200 lb.
Female 100 lb.
Sheep with long fringe from throat and forequarters; semicircular horns on both sexes
5 - 5.5 months
1 - 2 lambs
March - May
Wild 10 years
Captivity 20 years
Small family groups
Aoudad, also known as Barbary sheep, are the only wild sheep in Africa.
They were brought to the U.S. in the early 1900s for exhibition in zoos and parks. They were quite successful at reproducing in captivity, resulting in excess animals. These surplus sheep were used to establish populations on private and public lands in suitable habitat.
Free-ranging populations currently exist in California, New Mexico, and Texas. Those wild aoudad have been able to outcompete indigenous ungulates such as desert bighorn sheep.
While introduced populations in the U.S. and Spain are flourishing, their populations in Africa are declining due to hunting and habitat loss. People native to the Sahara take a toll on the population because it is an important source of meat. The hide, hair, and sinews are also valuable in the desert economy.
The aoudad has a fringe of long, soft hair hanging from its throat and forequarters, as well as semicircular horns that curve outward, back, and then inward over the neck. Both fringe and horns are more pronounced in the male. Its eyes could be considered its most remarkable feature with horizontal pupils surrounded by brilliant-yellow irises.
The aoudad is a very agile climber and powerful jumper that resides high in dry, mountainous or rocky terrain and is active during dawn and dusk while resting in shade during the heat of the day. They can, however, handle extreme temperatures - hot or cold - well.
A fence needs to be approximately 10 feet high to hold an aoudad that wants to escape. But, it will usually remain motionless when threatened.
While primarily a grazer, it also browses. Generally, aoudad obtain needed moisture from their food and can go without water for about five days.
Aoudad have a social nature that works well for large groups. While they look like more like sheep, aoudad are actually more closely related to wild goats. Aoudad are very tolerant of larger ungulates, but may dominate or show aggression toward smaller hoofstock.
In addition to generic aoudad, Fossil Rim also has a subspecies - Kordofan aoudad. The Kordofans live alongside the generic aoudad in the Game Preserve (fourth pasture you enter).
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As a private nonprofit corporation, Fossil Rim does not receive national or state government support. Every cent spent or donated here goes in some way, directly or indirectly, toward the care of our animals.