7 August 2023
The most threatened zebra in the world has been born at Whipsnade Zoo, after an epic 13-month-long pregnancy - with zookeepers celebrating the future stallion as a vital addition to the collaborative global breeding programme for the species.
Named Zinabi - which means raindrop in the Ethiopian language of Amharic - the 11-day-old is a perfect miniature of mum Henna, with oversized ears and his own unique black and white stripe pattern.
Zookeeper Michael Hepher said: “We knew Henna was expecting early on, but with zebras having such a long gestation we had to be patient. A few days before she gave birth, she separated herself from the herd, as is common in the wild, and in the early hours of Sunday morning (23 July) we found her curled up with the tiny newborn on a bed of straw.
“Within hours, the little one was wobbling around on his four gangly feet, with mum nudging and encouraging him to try again whenever he faltered. In the wild, zebra foals need to be up and moving quickly, in case any predators are lurking nearby, and Zinabi did a great job of taking his first few steps.”
Now that Zinabi has found his feet, he can be seen grazing the Dunstable Downs at the 600 acre conservation zoo, where he sticks close to mum’s side.
Zinabi’s unusual name was given to him by zookeepers because he was born on a rainy day, which - unlike in the UK - would be cause for celebration in Ethiopia and other African countries where the species hails from.
“Raindrops are a good thing in areas where there is extreme drought - caused in part by climate change - putting both human and animal lives at risk. Zinabi was born on a rainy Sunday and is a cause for celebration, as his birth marks the next generation of hope for the Endangered species – we thought it was the perfect name.”
Grevy’s Zebras (Equus grevyi) are listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red list, with less than 2,000 breeding male and females left in the horn of Africa, where they are found in the wild.
“Sadly, in the wild Grevy’s zebras face a slew of threats, from habitat loss due to development, degradation to grazing land from livestock, hunting, as well as disease from unvaccinated livestock,” added Michael.
ZSL, the international conservation charity behind Whipsnade Zoo, is helping to protect threatened species across the world – funded by visits to the conservation zoo.
“We’re working with zoos globally to ensure there is a healthy and genetically diverse back-up population of Grevy’s zebras, in case their numbers fall further. Meanwhile our ZSL colleagues are working to protect Kenya’s ecosystems through training young conservationists, engaging with local communities and helping to address human-wildlife conflict. Every visitor we welcome this summer will be supporting this vital work.”