A baby Grevy’s Zebra caught Chester Zoo visitors by surprise after it was born before their eyes, on August 21.
The latest arrival to the Zoo’s herd of endangered Grevy’s Zebras arrived to mum, Nadine, and dad, Mac. The foal is the second to be born at the Zoo in the space of just six days!
After a 14-month-long gestation, zookeepers noticed that Nadine was showing signs of labor early on the afternoon of August 21. They carefully monitored the momentous event from a distance, and Nadine gave birth after 40 minutes, in front of astounded onlookers.
Video footage, taken by a visitor, shows Nadine rolling around on her side before getting to her feet and starting to deliver the youngster.
Kim Wood, assistant team manager at the zoo, said, “Nadine gave birth in the middle of the afternoon in front of a group of some pretty amazed visitors.
“At first Nadine was seen lying on her side trying to make herself more comfortable as she began to feel what was about to happen. She then got to her feet and picked her spot in the paddock, and a healthy youngster appeared less than an hour later. It was a really smooth delivery.
“The foal is looking great and, with it being the second to be born here in the space of just a week, we’re sure the two new arrivals will be as thick as thieves.”
Nadine’s new offspring increases the number of Grevy’s Zebra, at Chester Zoo, to a herd of six. Keepers have yet to choose a name for the new arrival, as they have not yet been able to determine the sex.
The Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi) is listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – their numbers having dropped by more than 85% over the last 30 years. Conservationists estimate that as fewer than 2,000 could now be left in the wild and attribute their decline to a range of factors, including: a reduction of water sources, habitat loss, hunting, and disease. They are now only found, in the wild, in isolated populations in Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.
The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest living wild equid. It can be distinguished from other species of zebra by its larger ears and narrower stripes.
An herbivorous, nomadic grazer, the species feeds primarily on coarse grasses and sedges, but will also eat bark, leaves, buds, fruits, and roots. Grevy’s Zebras have incisors that they use to clip grass and numerous cheek-teeth that grind their food.
Grevy's Zebras can mate and give birth year-round, but most mating takes place at the beginning of the rainy season. Births mostly take place in August or September, after the rainy season.
Gestation of the Grevy's Zebra normally lasts about 13 months, with a single foal being born. Within an hour after birth, the young are up and about. Initially, the mare and her newborn stay away from the others for a few days, preventing other mares from approaching her foal. Isolating the foal in this way helps with bonding and prevents it from accepting another female as its mother. The mother imprints her striping pattern, scent and vocalization on her foal.
After the period of bonding, and until the foals reach the age of three months, females form small groups (three females and their foals). Mares may leave their foals in "kindergartens" while searching for water. Kindergartens tend to be guarded by an adult, which may be a territorial male. Foals remain dependent on their mother’s milk until six to eight months of age and stay with their mother for up to two to three years.