Keepers at Cotswold Wildlife Park are thankful for a fortunate event that occurred on a traditionally unlucky day-- Friday the 13th! They discovered that their Chapman’s Zebra mare, Stella, had given birth to a foal. This is her fourth baby with stallion, SpongeBob, and it is the breeding pairs’ first female foal.
Keepers enlisted the help of fans and supporters to select a name for the energetic new filly, and the name ‘Luna’ was chosen!
Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “For once, Friday the 13th proved very lucky. The foal was up and about very quickly and despite a distinct lack of coordination, was soon dashing around the paddock. Luckily for her, she was able to enjoy the benefits of a rare hot British summer and continues to go from strength to strength.”
Visitors to the Park can now see the youngster in the Zebra enclosure, opposite the Rhino paddock.
Cotswold Wildlife Park has been home to these iconic African animals since 1976. Their first Chapman’s Zebra (Equus quagga chapmani) arrived at the Burford collection in 1978, eight years after the Park first opened to the public on Good Friday, 27th March 1970. This latest arrival marks the forty-fifth Chapman’s Zebra birth - a testament to the Park’s successful breeding programme.
The gestation period for a Zebra is approximately twelve months. Females give birth to a single foal. Soon after birth, they are able to stand up and walk. During the first few weeks of life, the mother is very protective. The foal recognizes its mother by her call, her scent and her stripe pattern. The mare’s protectiveness ensures that the foal will not imprint on another animal. The mare will suckle her foal throughout and beyond his first year and their bond is an incredibly strong one.
Zebras are the only wild horses that remain plentiful in their natural range in the African plains. They are related to the now extinct Quagga (a cross between a Zebra and a horse) of which millions were killed, many simply for sport. Some were transported to zoos where breeding was thought unnecessary, as it was believed numbers weren’t a concern in the wild. Sadly, the last Quagga died in Amsterdam Zoo on 12th August 1883.
In 2012, researchers at Sweden’s Lunds University examined potential evolutionary reasons for the Zebra’s distinctive striped markings. They began by studying horses that had black, brown or white coats. They discovered that white-coated horses were much less troubled by horseflies than their dark-coloured relatives. By setting up insect glue-covered boards with different patterns, researchers found that a white-and-black striped pattern, replicating the coat of a Zebra, attracted the least amount of flies by a large margin. Their research revealed that stripes probably evolved to repel bloodsuckers by successfully scrambling their vision.
*Interesting facts about Zebras:
There are three species of Zebra: Plains Zebra (of which Chapman’s Zebra is a sub-species), Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra (listed as “Endangered” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.)
Zebras are equids (members of the horse family). They communicate through facial expressions, such as baring their teeth, and vocally through barking, braying and snorting.
Their powerful kick can cause serious injury to predators such as Lions, Hyenas and African Wild Dogs.
As a Zebra gallops, all four hooves are off the ground for more than half of the time taken for a complete stride. Such minimal contact reduces friction with the ground and allows the Zebra to “fly” in a succession of long leaps, at speeds exceeding 35 miles per hour.
When resting at night, Zebras lie down while one stands watch to prevent an ambush.
The collective noun for a group of Zebras is a ‘dazzle’.