Birth of endangered zebra foals in Scotland

May 23, 2011

Two rare Grevys Zebra foals born at Edinburgh Zoo three months ago have made their public debut, and given a boost to the endangered breed.

One of the new babies at Edinburgh Zoo
The arrivals follow a handful of births of Grevy's zebra foals in recent months. Last October, two foals were born at London's Whipsnade Zoo, and in March a colt was born at Detroit Zoo.

The African Plains exhibit at Edinburgh Zoo has a man-made watering hole to create the perfect zebra territory.

The Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi) is the largest of the three zebra species, with adults weighing between 800 and 1000 pounds. The breed is considered endangered, partly due to hunting for its skin, which fetches a high price on the world market.

It also suffers due to habitat destruction, human disturbances at water holes and competition with domestic grazing animals.

There are believed to be fewer than 1800 Grevy's zebra remaining in northern Kenya and in one tiny population of about 100 animals in Ethiopia. Edinburgh Zoo said the Ethiopian animals are expected to disappear soon.

"However, there is conservation work being done in Kenya to help this species to survive in the wild. The Lewa reserve is one of the strongholds, with over 450 Grevy's zebra there."

Zebras are born with brown stripes that turn black as they mature. The striped pattern on each zebra is as unique as a fingerprint; no two are the same.