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Blackpool Zoo Earns Its Stripes

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Ecstatic keepers at Blackpool Zoo have really earned their stripes after becoming the first UK team to successfully breed a Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in the last nine years. The foal is also the first of its species to arrive in the whole of Europe in 2011, with just 12 born around the globe in 2010. Named Tebogo, a South African name which means ‘we are thankful’, by keepers, he takes the number of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras in captivity in the UK to 14.

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Tebogo-Blackpool-Hartmann's-Zebra
Photo credits: Blackpool Zoo

After closely monitoring mother Helene during her 12 month pregnancy staff arrived for work on Monday 28th February to find the foal already standing and within hours he was suckling. He has since continued to flourish under the watchful eye of his mother.

Sofie Haugaard, Blackpool Zoo’s Senior Large Mammal Keeper, said: “We were delighted when we confirmed that our male zebra Fernando had successfully mated with Helene and that she was expecting a foal.

“Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra births are extremely rare and it is fantastic to know that we have broken a nine year absence of new babies in the UK.

“Now that Helene and Fernando are accomplished parents we are hoping for the pitter patter of more tiny hooves in the future.”

Tanya Langenhorst, the International Studbook Keeper & European Breeding Programme Co-ordinator, added: “The birth of this foal is hugely important and wonderful news for the breeding programme and Blackpool Zoo as it adds not only another foal, but two more proven breeders to the European population.”

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008 lists Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras as Vulnerable with a total population of around 9000.

Current studies indicate that this number could decline by more than 10 per cent in the next 25 years due to an increase in hunting and loss of natural habitat to agriculture.

Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras are native to Namibia and most commonly found in the extremely harsh environmental conditions of the Kunene Region in the North West.

Tebogo takes the number of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras at Blackpool Zoo to four. Eighteen year old female Bety shares the paddock with proud parents Helene and Fernando, who are seven and six respectively.

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