Two Grevy’s zebras were recently born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and the youngsters are already running around with their herd, learning new skills.
According to Safari Park officials, the two male foals were born on March 5 and Feb. 26. By Friday, the babies were already running throughout their grassy habitat, all while still staying close to their mother.
Jeff Gross, Safari Park senior keeper, said the foals are adapting well, doing exactly as is expected of their species.
“Once they hit the ground, within a short period of time they are ready to run,” Gross explained. “Their main form of staying alive [in the wild] is actually being able to keep up with the herd, so the importance of being able to move about, move quickly and stay close to mother – who is very protective – is very important.”
Keepers said a zebra foal can tell its mother apart from other zebras in a very interesting way: by memorizing her unique stripe pattern. This memorization skill, called “imprinting,” happens just after a zebra is born. Grevy’s zebras have the skinniest stripes of any zebra species, with their stripes running all the way down their back to their white belly.
These newest zebra babies are just two of the 86 Grevy’s zebra births to take place at Safari Park. Each birth is significant, given the endangered population of the species. Keepers said the wild Grevy’s zebra population has been ravaged by anthrax outbreaks and has dropped to just 2,250 of the animals in the wild.
San Diego Zoo Global is working with conservation groups to help preserve the population.
The new Grevy’s zebra babies and their herd can be seen by Safari Park visitors from the Africa Tram ride which goes through the park’s African field exhibits.