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The St. Louis Zoo made a birth announcement Tuesday morning: Tobias, a Somali wild ass, was born July 30.

He’s a critically endangered member of the horse family, and there are only 68 of them at North American zoos, the zoo said.

Seven of them are at the St. Louis Zoo, including his mother Tukia and father Hirizi. Tukia came here in 2005 from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and Hirizi was born here in 2013.

Tobias weighed 51 pounds and birth. You can now see him with his mom and two other adult females in the Red Rocks area of the zoo.

The Somali wild ass can be found in small numbers in the far eastern parts of Africa. Only four other zoos in North America have bred this species, and Tobias’ birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. That’s the program that ensures zoos maintain genetically healthy populations of animals.

The St. Louis Zoo has a WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa, and they work with other groups to study and preserve the animals. Some hunt the wild asses for food and medicine, and wild asses also compete for grazing grounds and water, the zoo said.

People often make fun of the name, and that can present an image problem for the animal, zoo president Jeffrey Bonner wrote in 2008 as part of a series for the Post-Dispatch about protecting animals.

“If you stand around their yard for any length of time, you'll hear visitors making a variety of rather tasteless jokes about the animals' name,” he wrote. “Parents rush their children along so that they don't have time to read the educational graphic. Mothers tell their children that our asses are donkeys - which they are not. School groups break into gales of laughter when the class clown shouts their name. In other words, visitors are missing our conservation message that we are working hard to save these rare, beautiful and magnificent animals.”