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Endangered Zebra Born in Denver

Endangered in their native Kenya and Ethiopia, the Grevy's Zebra is the world's largest equine species (i.e. largest horse-like critter). In addition to their breeding efforts, like this little foal born November 27th, the Denver Zoo works with communities in Kenya to educate people on steps they can take to help protect this endangered species. The zoo even offers undergraduate scholarships in Kenya for the next generation of local wildlife leaders.

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Photo credits: Dave Parsons / Denver Zoo 

January 7, 2010


Visitors Can See the Month-Old Foal in the South Zebra Yard

Denver Zoo is celebrating the birth of a brand new, endangered Grevy’s zebra. Born to mother, Topaz and father, Punda, on Friday, November 27, the new arrival, a male named Lakota, now can be seen outside in the southern zebra yard, weather permitting.

This is the second foal for Topaz and she is still proving to be an excellent mother, keeping a watchful eye over the young colt. Lakota is very shy and tends to remain at his mother’s side, but has been known to venture out on his own from time to time. This is the third Grevy’s zebra from the zoo’s breeding herd and the sixteenth zebra to be born in the zoo’s history.

There are three different species of zebra; plains or common zebra, mountain zebra and Grevy’s zebra. Grevy’s zebras are endangered with less than two thousand left in the wild due to loss of habitat, competition with livestock and poaching. As the largest wild equine species, Grevy’s can be distinguished from other zebras by their longer legs, more narrow stripes, white, stripeless underbelly and large rounded ears. Grevy’s zebras are only found in northern Kenya and south eastern Ethiopia.

Denver Zoo is dedicated to saving Grevy’s zebras through conservation in the wild and on zoo grounds. Lakota is the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures the genetic diversity of select species. In the wild, Denver Zoo employs a full-time conservation biologist dedicated to Grevy’s zebra research in Kenya. Kenya is the last stronghold for Grevy’s zebras, as they’ve disappeared from most of their former habitat. The zoo also works with communities and schools in Kenya to create awareness of this animal’s plight and encourage grassroots support of Grevy’s zebra conservation, as well as offering undergraduate scholarships for the next generation of wildlife conservation leaders. In the past, Denver Zoo has also provided life-saving vaccines during an anthrax epidemic to Grevy’s in the wild.

Full grown male zebras can weigh up to a thousand pounds and stand over five feet tall at the shoulder. Zebra foals are born after a gestation period of 13 months. Young zebras are born with brown stripes instead of black. This protective coloring helps the foal to blend in with its background and be less visible to predators. Zebra’s stripes are like human fingerprints and no two zebras have identical stripe patterns.