Here’s some happy news: Last Saturday, June 18, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo welcomed a newborn baby Grevy’s zebra.
While not as famous as the plains or mountain zebra, Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) is every bit as beautiful and a lot more endangered. E. grevyi is the largest, sturdiest member of the zebra family, and with its rounded ears and big head, it often looks more like a painted mule than a typical zebra.
Grevy’s zebras also have an unusual social structure. Instead of forming permanent herds, they typically drift into and out of temporary cliques to stay safe while grazing. Male Grevy’s zebras stake out large territories, which they protect by scent marking and strategic yelling.
Thirty years ago, there were more than 15,000 Grevy’s zebras in the wild. Today, due to habitat loss and poaching, fewer than 2500 of these remarkable animals remain. To ensure a stable population continues, zoos across the United States have teamed up to build a Species Survival Plan. If all goes well, these plans may someday allow captive-born Grevy’s zebras and other endangered species to be introduced into the wild.
So when zoo staff arrived at work last weekend, they were especially excited to find a beautiful new addition to their zebra family standing beside her mother, a 9-year-old zebra named Adia. Grevy’s zebra babies are especially quick to get up and get moving; they can stand on their own just six minutes after birth and start running less than an hour later.
Dana Murphy is the zoo’s vice president of education and community engagement. “Research tells us that fostering an emotional connection between humans and animals is key to creating a real commitment to wildlife conservation,” Murphy said in a press statement. “Species like zebras, with which we are relatively familiar—and become so at an early age—help us forge that connection and inspire our guests to care about their future.”
All images by Todd Rosenberg // Lincoln Park Zoo
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