A Look at the Nubian Ibex


Photo courtesy of Derek Hilton (MxCat Graphix)

Name: Nubian ibex
Scientific name: Capra ibex nubiana
Range: Northern Africa
Habitat: Alpine regions of the desert
Status: Limited and endangered in Israel
Diet in the wild: Herbivorous
Diet in the zoo: herbivore diet
Location in the zoo:  Upper Walkway Overlooking the African Hoof Stock Exhibit

Physical description:
Adults average 27 to 43 inches high at the shoulder and weigh approximately 200 pounds.  The male's horns can grow up to 56 inches in length forming a semicircle over its back, whereas the female of this species has shorter horns that only grow up to 15 inches in length.  They have very large ears, and older males have a long beard. 

General information:
Females and young live in herds of up to 20 individuals, while males spend much of the year in bachelor groups. Males frequently fight amongst themselves for hierarchy.

Photo by Amanda Ortega
Special anatomical, physiological or behavioral adaptations:
Both the male and female have very strong hind legs often used for defense.  If they feel as if they are in danger, then they will rise up on their hind legs and point their horns towards their predator. 

  Interesting Facts:
1) The Nubian ibex has special grooming habits that include grackles.  Flocks of grackles peck at  the hides of the ibex.  They peck for parasites and any other critters that may be harmful to the ibex.  There is only one grackle per ibex and the grackles often compete for each ibex. 
2) The two main predators of the Nubian ibex are leopards and Arabian hunters. 
3) The gestation period for the Nubian ibex is 5 months and they can live up to 20 years. 

Comments about the Nubian ibex of the Fort Worth Zoo:

Natural History:

{short description of image}The Nubian ibex is a wild goat found in the Nubian Desert of northeastern Sudan, Africa.  In this area it dwells in dry desert mountainous terrain at elevations up to 8500 feet. 
Cliff Dwellers:
The Nubian ibex is very agile when it comes to maneuvering steep cliffs.  It spends much of its day moving up and down precipitous terrain.  It may come down to graze during the day and then return to the cliffs in the evening.  It is most active in the morning and late afternoon, but during the midday heat the ibex tends to lay in the shade.  In the summer it moves further up the mountain to avoid the heat.  The nubian ibex will come down to lower elevation in the winter.  It comes down the lowest in spring to reach new grass. 

Personal Observations:
While at the zoo I saw two male ibexes interact.  At first, they appeared as if they were going to fight but to my surprise, they were being playful towards one another.  It seemed like they were putting on a show for the visitors.  Each ibex started out on opposite sides of their housing but eventually moved closer towards the other.  As they got closer they tilted their horns towards each other and circled one another.  I thought for sure they were going to fight but they pulled away and did not do harm to one another. 

Photo courtesy of Scott Wood
Click on picture for a larger image
Source Materials and Related Link
Fort Worth Zoo
1989 Colonial Parkway
Fort Worth, TX 76110

Grzimek, Dr. Dr. h. c. Bernhard.  Grzimeks Animal Life Encyclopedia.  13 vols. New York: Van  Nostrand Reinhold Company, 474-80.

Wilson Bulletin.  103.3 (1991): 518-520.

Related Links:

Nubian Ibex at the Phoenix Zoo.

Nubian Ibex at The Ultimate Ungulate


Page Author:
Amanda Ortega
If you have any questions or comments then you can send them to  gekko_18@hotmail.com

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