10th Dec 2007 Western Plains Zoo's newest addition, a male giraffe calf, shortly after his birth on 6 December 2007.Photo: Tim Portas Western Plains Zoo's Kampala and foal KwasiPhoto: Shallon McReaddie Western Plains Zoo is experiencing a baby boom with the arrival of a Persian Onager foal, born in the stormy early hours of Thursday 6 December 2007. The foal has been named ‘Touran', after one of only two protected reserves in Iran where the species still remain. Touran is the offspring of mother Kashan and father Gobi. Keepers were pleasantly surprised to arrive at work and find first time mother Kashan had given birth overnight in a behind the scenes yard. "Kashan is being a tremendous mother," said Zoo Keeper, Monique Counihan. "She is very protective of her new born and keeps the foal safe and away from the rest of the herd. Both mother and foal are developing a strong bond which is great to see." "Touran is a little wobbly on its legs but is getting stronger every day. Touran is very much a miniature version of Kashan not to mention extremely cute," added Monique. Whilst every birth at Western Plains Zoo is a cause for celebration, the birth of Touran is even more so as there is less than 500 Persian Onagers remaining in the wild and Touran is the first Persian Onager foal born at the Zoo since 2001. The arrival of Touran has increased Western Plains Zoo's herd of Persian Onagers to nine in total. Western Plains Zoo boasts the largest herd of Persian Onagers in Australia and the third largest in the world. Touran is currently on exhibition along with mother Kashan and the rest of the herd. Visitors to the zoo can also see a Zebra foal and Bison calf, both born in late October 2007, and a Giraffe calf, born on Thursday, 6 December. Persian Onager, Equus Hemionus Onager, is a member of the Asiatic Wild Ass family and was once found from Western Asia to Mongolia and Tibet. The Persian Onager once roamed arid and semi-arid desert areas of Iran however, is only found in two locations within Iran today. Persian Onagers vary in colouration from a pale gold to a reddish brown coat with a black dorsal stripe, dark brown mane and tail tassels. Their vocal sound is between the neigh of a horse and the bray of a donkey, with their ears being large, erect and alert. The Persian Onager can reach speeds of 60km/h over a short distance and is capable of travelling vast distances in extreme heat at a fast pace. Western Plains Zoo is located in Central West NSW, just five hours from Sydney and Newcastle and ten hours from Brisbane and Melbourne on the Newell Highway. The Zoo is open from 9.00am to 4.00pm (exit gates close at 5.00pm) every day of the year. For more information please call (02) 6881 1400 or visit www.zoo.nsw.gov.au.