Keepers at Taronga Western Plains Zoo were delighted to arrive at work on 15 November 2020 to find a male Zebra foal had safely arrived overnight.
The colt is the seventh foal for mum Kioni, who is a very experienced mother and was sired by Bwana, who was transferred to Taronga Zoo, Sydney earlier this year.
The foal has been named Obi by his keepers, meaning heart in the Igbo language of Nigeria.
“Both mum and her foal are doing extremely well. Obi is very stable on his feet and moving around the paddock alongside Kioni,” said Keeper Carolene Magner.
Kioni is a very natural maternal dam and is quite protective, which is important to ensure the foal stays close by for feeding and safety, to prevent any misadventure from other larger herd members.
“The foal is not venturing too far from mum’s side but that is very normal as Kioni is quite protective and keeping the other herd members at a safe distance. The other females in the group are very interested in the new foal but Kioni is ensuring he stays close by her side at present,” said Carolene.
“We are very happy with how he is progressing over his first week and look forward to watching him grow and develop, and eventually interacting with the other herd members,” said Carolene.
“Mornings are a great time to see Obi as he is most active then, and like most newborns will have a burst of energy and then take a nap.”
Zebra have a gestation period of 12 – 13 months. Taronga Western Plains Zoo is home to 11 Zebra across three groups at present. A breeding herd with new addition Obi and five other females, a small bachelor group next to the Giraffe exhibit and another group on the African Savannah.
There are three subspecies of Zebra in the wild – Plains Zebra, Grevy’s Zebra and Mountain Zebra. The Plains Zebra sub species which Taronga Western Plains Zoo holds is classified as near threatened. The wild population is declining due to competition with livestock for natural resources, hunting for meat and hide as well as the impacts of drought in some range states.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s Beads for Wildlife program helps to support the conservation of Zebra in Northern Kenya, through a partnership with Biliqo-Bulesa Conservancy, a branch of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), selling beadwork made by over 600 women in Northern Kenya. With every bead work product sold in the Zoo Shop it is helping to provide an alternate income to livestock for these communities, which would compete with wildlife for natural resources such as water and vegetation in this region. Put simply, more beads sold = less livestock = more wildlife.