A baby Grevy's Zebra born at the Brookfield Zoo is already earning his stripes as a valued addition to the population of this endangered species.
Born November 9, the foal is doing well as he bonds with Mypa, his nearly 7-year-old mom. The not-yet-named foal weighs between 75 and 100 pounds. The pairing of Mypa and the sire, Nazim, was based on a recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining breeding population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Currently, nearly 175 Grevy's Zebras live at 38 accredited North American zoos.
Photo Credit: Brookfield Zoo
Zebra foals are born with a wooly coat of russet stripes that are darker on the head, neck, and legs. A bushy mane, which a Zebra begins to shed at about 3 weeks of age, runs from just behind the ears to the tail, as well as down the midline of the belly. The coat changes to the more familiar adult short hair and black stripes at about 5 months of age. A Zebra’s stripes are like fingerprints: no two are the same.
Grevy’s Zebras are listed as endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature Resources. According to the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, the species has undergone one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal. Once found more widely across the Horn of Africa, their range is now confined specifically to southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya. In the late 1970s, the global population of Grevy’s Zebras was estimated to be about 15,000 individuals. In 2008, an updated survey estimated approximately 2,800 animals representing more than an 80 percent decline over the past four decades. The species’ demise is due to habitat loss, hunting, and competition for resources with other grazers, as well as cattle and livestock.