There is a truly festive feel in the air at Blackpool Zoo after the birth of a very special boy in one of its stables. The male Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra foal, yet to be named, is only the fourth of his kind to be born in the UK for the past decade and he is a hugely significant addition to the European Endangered Species Program.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011 lists Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras as Vulnerable with a total population of less than 9000 mature individuals. Current studies indicate that this number could decline by more than 10% in the next 25 years due to an increase in hunting and loss of natural habitat to agriculture.
When senior mammal keeper Sofie Fawzy arrived for work on Monday, November 26, she was delighted to find the beautiful little striped boy up on his feet, feeding from his mother. Although keepers suspected that mom Betty was pregnant, a due date was not yet confirmed. It was hoped that, as an older mum, 19-year-old Betty would give birth safely to her very first foal. And indeed she did.
Blackpool Zoo broke a nine year absence of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra births in 2011 when its other resident female, Helene, gave birth to Tebogo, who recently moved to an all-male group in Germany. The father of both foals is Fernando.
Sofie, who oversaw the birth and rearing of Tebogo, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have another foal, and mother and baby are doing very well. It will be fantastic to see another lively young one running around. As it is coming up to Christmas, we feel very honored to have our own special little boy who was born in a stable!”
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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. There are 16 Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in the UK and four of them live at Blackpool Zoo. Betty and her new arrival share the paddock with Helene and Fernando, who are eight and seven respectively.
Tanya Langenhorst, the International Studbook Keeper & European Breeding Program Coordinator for Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra’s, added: “I would like to congratulate the team at Blackpool Zoo on another successful birth. This foal is very important and wonderful news for the breeding program.”