Death a blow for Hartmann’s mountain zebra breeding efforts

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A young Hartmann's mountain zebra has died at a Florida theme park after being spooked by ostriches.
A young Hartmann’s mountain zebra has died at a Florida theme park after being spooked by ostriches. © Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom

A young Hartmann’s mountain zebra has died at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, after being spooked by ostriches.

The two ostriches had been released into the park’s safari enclosure on Thursday, April 14. They spooked the young zebra, who ran at speed into a gate. Staff worked to save the zebra, shown in a video of the aftermath of the incident.

A spokesman said: “We are heartbroken over the loss of our Hartmann’s mountain zebra that passed away yesterday, and we ask that you keep our dedicated animal care cast members in your thoughts.”

It is not yet known which of the herd’s zebras died, but some reports indicate it was Zarina, a six-month-old filly born at the park.

Hartmann’s mountain zebras are a subspecies of the mountain zebra, which is one of three zebra species. Considered vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Hartmann’s mountain zebras live in the dry mountain habitats of Namibia. They are at risk of drought wiping out large numbers in the wild.

Unlike other zebra species, Hartmann’s mountain zebras live in small herds, have vertical stripes on their neck and torso and horizontal stripes on their rump, and have a small fold of skin under their chin (called a dewlap). With fewer than 25,000 individuals left in the wild, the biggest threat to this species’ survival is habitat loss and fragmentation as the result of livestock production and agriculture.

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