Zebra Born at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Sticks Close to Mom

Escondido, California - A Grevy's zebra foal carefully explored his habitat at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park this morning with his mother staying close behind. The foal, named Tanu, was born on January 3 and is the fifth baby for mother Bakavu. 

Bakavu is very protective of her offspring and keeps her baby near her side at all times. Keepers say that it is natural for a mother zebra to be so protective over her foal. The two run and interact with other members of the Grevy's zebra herd at the Safari Park, but Bakavu always keeps a barrier between her baby and the other zebras.

Tanu can tell his mother apart from other zebras in the herd and knows to stay close to her by memorizing her unique stripe pattern. The memorization happens just after a zebra is born and is called imprinting. Grevy's zebras have the skinniest stripes of any zebra species; the stripes run all the way down their back to a white belly. Every zebra has a unique stripe pattern.

The zebra foal is currently getting all of his nutrition by nursing but has started mouthing at hay around his field exhibit as well. Zebras are herbivores and feed mostly by grazing on grasses, although they also might browse a bit on the leaves and stems of bushes. They graze for many hours each day, using their strong front teeth to clip off the tips of the grass. Their back teeth then crush and grind the food. Spending so much time chewing wears the teeth down, so those teeth keep growing throughout their life. 

Guests visiting the Safari Park can see mother and baby zebra, as well as the rest of the Grevy's zebra herd, from the Africa Tramride. The Tramride is a guided tram tour that takes guests around the Safari Park's African field exhibits and gives guests a chance to connect with wildlife on a closer level.

The endangered Grevy's zebras population has been ravaged by anthrax outbreaks, dropping its ranks to an estimated wild population of 2,250. San Diego Zoo Global is a member of the Grevy's Zebra Trust, an independent wildlife conservation organization in Kenya, and its researchers are working with other conservation groups to help preserve the population. San Diego Zoo Global has had 140 Grevy's zebra births at its two facilities.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the mission of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The important conservation and science work of these entities is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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