Move over, Marty!
There's a new striped superstar in town. And, this one won't be migrating to Madagascar or Monte Carlo any time soon—or performing in a rainbow Afro and pastel polka dots.
Last Tuesday, BREC's Baton Rouge Zoo welcomed a baby Plains zebra. The 23rd zebra to be born onsite in the zoo's 42-year history, this bounding baby boy is a happy addition to the current herd of five adults.
Native to the plains of East Africa, the plains zebra spend most of their time grazing—and avoiding predators.
Each zebra's pattern is as unique as a human's fingerprint and plays a role in the survival of the species.
Many zebra's predators, such as lions or hyenas, lack color vision. So, the zebra's stripes make it difficult for predators to determine which stripes belong to which animal. And since separating a single animal from the herd is basic to predator success, stripes give the herd a better chance of escape by confusing the hunting pack.
Plains zebras prefer to keep their distance from humans as well. However, they are not as aggressive as the endangered Grevy's zebra, who have rounder ears and narrower stripes.
(In fact, guides at the Global Wildlife Center in Robert, La., are quick to warn visitors that their Grevy's zebras' nasty temperament keeps the herd in a perpetual time-out from interacting with safari tours.)
Since zebra gestation is 370 days, the zoo staff had plenty of time to monitor the mother and prepare for the foal's arrival. Both mother and baby are so healthy and active that they are already on exhibit for the public.
The baby has yet to be named. But, unfortunately, “We don't anticipate having a naming contest,” says Sam Winslow, the zoo's assistant director/general curator. “Usually the animal keeper who first sees [the baby] gets to name [him].”
Newborn plains zebra weighs around 66 between 76 pounds, and males typically grow to be about 4.5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh up to 800 pounds. So, if you'd like to see the newest member of the zoo crew before he becomes a behemoth, you've got to move it.
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