A Grevy’s Zebra foal born at the Brookfield Zoo on July 7 stays close to mom as if to say, “You can’t see me!”
Indeed, Zebras’ striped coats help them blend in with the herd and surrounding vegetation, making them nearly invisible to predators. Like most Zebra foals, this little girl was born with brownish stripes. The stripes will turn black as she grows.
The foal weighed 100 pounds at birth. She was born to five-year-old Kali and her mate, 15-year-old Nazim. The pairing of the two was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP manages breeding to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Currently, fewer than 200 Grevy's Zebras live in less than 50 accredited North American zoos. This is the first Grevy’s Zebra birth at Brookfield Zoo since 1998.
Grevy’s Zebras, which are the largest of all wild equids, are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species is now found only in its native habitat of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia and is considered to be extinct in Somalia. Researchers estimate that the Grevy's Zebra population has declined by more than 50 percent over the past two decades, with approximately 2,000 remaining in the wild.
Major threats to the species include reduction of and competition for water sources; habitat degradation and loss due to overgrazing; and hunting. Most Grevy's Zebras live outside of national parks on communal lands, making community participation in their conservation critical.