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There are 6 species of wild sheep which could have given origin to the domestic breeds: Argali ( Ovis ammon), the Urial ( O. orientalis), the mouflon ( O. musimon) and the Bighorn (O. Canadensis). The sheep of the indigenous people of southern Africa consist of fat-tailed breeds. They are characterized by their extreme hardiness and their ability to survive severe droughts. They are well adapted to utilize indigenous vegetation and to cope with unimproved management systems (Maree & Casey 1993: 9). Sheep may be classified according to uses: wool, meat, milk or dual purpose animals. Most sheep are dual purpose. Woollen sheep were only introduced in South Africa following the settlement of the Europeans in the middle of the 17th century (Maree & Casey 1993: 9).
The Zoo has Bapedi and Zulu sheep.

Bapedi sheep
They originated from Limpopo, south of the Soutpansberg Mountains. They arrived in South Africa between 200 and 400 AD with Bapedi people who migrated southwards through Africa. The colour of the sheep varies, but the most common colour is white with a red-brown head. The fat tail is usually long and varies in shape. They are tolerant of ticks and tick-borne diseases. They are extremely hardy and heat-tolerant. The fat tail is good for processed meat products. They have tasty tender meat and quality skin and have good fertility and mothering abilities.

Zulu sheep
They are from Zululand and Swaziland. They are indigenous to Africa and migrated to South Africa with the Nguni people between 200 and 400 AD. They were used as a source of income, food and for rituals. Zulu people believed that the animal fat helped with cleansing and the home will be peaceful if a sheep was used during a cleansing ceremony. They are extremely hardy � can go without water for a few days and tolerate temperature extremes due to their peculiar fleece. Their colour varies greatly. They can walk long distances and have a strong flocking instinct. They are highly resistant to parasites, tick-bone diseases and other sheep diseases. It is thought that a scent from the special gland on their feet repels ticks and other parasites. No other sheep have this. They are alert, quite intelligent and do not panic like other breeds. They can give birth at any time of year.

Their population started dwindling with the arrival of other species from overseas, as they started mating with the other species, their bloodline and genetic diversity started to be affected. Slowly they became mixed breeds and Zulu sheep are now classified as endangered.

The Zoo started getting involved in a cooperative breeding program in 2007. This was an attempt to increase sheep population and has since bred a number of lambs which were sent to other institutions such as Monte Casino and Sun City. The zoo currently has 17 sheep, consisting of 10 ewes and 7 rams. They live in flocks and breeding is throughout the year with a single lamb born at a time. Twins are common with matured ewes. Ewes become pregnant at the age of 1, whilst rams can be sexually matured at six months. Their gestation is approximately 150 days. The ewe looks after their offspring, which suckle for about 4 months.

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