Dorcas Gazelle

(Gazella dorcas)




Facts about this animal

The Dorcas Gazelle is the smallest gazelle. The males' horns are lyre-shaped and up to 40 cm long. The females' horns are smaller and straighter. The body length is about 1 m and the shoulder height is 55-65 cm, the weight is about 20 kg.


They were once widespread and numerous in savannahs, semi-deserts and deserts, ranging over most of North Africa, east through the Middle East to Pakistan and India. Their range now is fragmented and in some areas they are extinct.

Did you know?
that the Dorcas gazelle is a synonym for beauty in both Arab and Israeli culture? It is the biblical tzvi, an animal whose grace and beauty symbolise the Land of Israel, which is referred to as eretz hatzvi, the land of the gazelle. The beauty of the beloved is compared to a gazelle in several verses in Solomon's Song of Songs. Elsewhere in the bible the gazelle is a metaphor for speed.


Name (Scientific) Gazella dorcas
Name (English) Dorcas Gazelle
Name (French) Gazelle dorcas
Name (German) Dorkasgazelle
Name (Spanish) Gacela dorcas
CITES Status Appendix III (Tunisia, Danemark, Algeria)
CMS Status Appendix I



Photo Copyright by



Range North Africa and Middle East: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Israel, Jordan. Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria(?), Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Yemen. Extinct in Senegal
Habitat Savannahs, semideserts and deserts
Wild population 35,000-40,000 (1999) (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population Gazella dorcas neglecta: 172 (80, 92) registered by the International Studbook (Dec 31, 2008). 430 Gazella dorcas reported to ISIS (April 2009).

In the Zoo

Dorcas Gazelle


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Frithjof Spangenberg

Why do zoos keep this animal

The dorcas gazelle is the gazelle per se referred to in the Holy Bible and of considerable cultural importance for the peoples in North Africa and the Near East. Keeping them is, therefore, of educational interest. The species is also vulnerable.

For one subspecies, the Saharawi dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas neglecta), an International Studbook has been established with a view of maintaining a viable ex situ population.