Zoo Celebrates Zebra Birth


Auckland Zoo is celebrating the birth of a healthy baby zebra  - born to 18-year-old mum Itika and first-time dad, seven-year-old Machano.

On his feet and walking within the first 20 minutes of life, the energetic male foal weighs 36kg and is the fourth offspring of mum Itika. Both mum and foal have undergone vet checks and are in good health.

“Itika is doing exactly as she should – being very protective of her newborn, just as a zebra mum would in the wild. While you expect it, it’s incredible to witness just how quickly and strongly they bond, and impressive to see how lively this foal is. He’s absolutely full of energy; we think this stormy weather might have played a part,” says Auckland Zoo Pridelands team leader Nat Sullivan, who explaied  stormy weather in the wild is the perfect time for zebra to give birth as it helps disguise the smells of birth from predators.

The yet-to-be-named foal’s birth provides the Australasian region with valuable genetic stock for future breeding, and brings Auckland Zoo’s zebra herd to four. The herd will grow further next week with the arrival of two new zebra fillies from Hamilton Zoo.

Mother and foal will gradually be introduced to the rest of the zebra herd, and the giraffe and ostrich, with whom they share a home in the Zoo’s African precinct, Pridelands.

Ms Sullivan says it is likely that visitors will be able to see Itika and her foal out in Pridelands in the coming days.

  • Zebra species: There are six sub-species of zebra throughout Africa. Auckland Zoo is home to Plain’s zebra.
  • Conservation risk: as with many African species, loss of habitat is a concern, as is poaching tail hair for jewellery. The Grevy’s zebra, now confined to southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya is under the greatest threat -  listed as Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
  • Diet: mother’s milk for the first six months. Newborns also start eating browse and hay within weeks.
  • Zebra stripes: young zebra have brown stripes on a white coat, which darken as the zebra matures and are like a fingerprint.  No two zebra are the same. These stripes are a form of camouflage. Although the pattern is visible during the day, at dawn or in the evening when predators are most active, zebra look indistinct and may confuse predators by distorting true distance.
  • Eyesight: a zebra’s eyesight at night is thought to be about as good as that of a cat or an owl.
  • Life expectancy: zebra can live up to 30 years, but life expectancy in the wild is generally about 12 years, with many wild zebra taken by predators.





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