A rare zebra has been born at Chester Zoo in England. The yet-unnamed youngster, a Grevy’s Zebra, is the first of her speies to be born at the zoo for 34 years.
The foal was born to first-time parents Nadine and Mac on February 22. Her stripes are brown now, but they will turn black as she matures.
Grevy's Zebras, also known as Imperial Zebras, are the largest and most endangered of the three species of zebra. There are thought to be less than 2,500 left in the wild.
Curator of Mammals Tim Rowlands says, “Since our female zebras arrived a few years ago, we have worked very hard to breed this highly endangered species, and the arrival of this foal is not only a really good achievement for us but good news for the species as a whole.
“She is a lively one but mum Nadine is doing a great job so far, particularly given that it’s her first – she’s certainly earning her parental stripes.”
The Grevy’s Zebra is listed as Endangered in the wild. Today they are found in small, isolated populations in Ethiopia and northern Kenya. They have become regionally extinct in Somalia and Sudan. Their numbers are said to have declined by more than half over the past 20 years, due to a range of factors including the reduction of available water sources, commercial hunting for their skins and disease.
In January 2006, Northern Kenya experienced an outbreak of anthrax triggered by one of the worst droughts that has occurred in decades. The disease threatened to spread throughout the reserves where the most important remaining Grevy’s Zebra populations occur. The Kenya Wildlife Service called for funds to vaccinate up to 1,000 wild Grevy’s Zebras to safeguard them against the disease. The international zoo community, including Chester Zoo, came to the rescue.
Within two weeks, funding was in place and the fast and unprecedented action on the ground averted a potentially disastrous outcome for the species. It is suspected that close to 5% of Grevy’s Zebra succumbed to the disease, but vaccinations prevented a greater loss that could have pushed the species to the brink.