Education / Local / Science

Zoo welcomes baby zebra, asks public for naming help

Zoo Keeper Ben Bayless, holds the baby zebra to get an accurate weight. Both mom and foal are behind the scenes to bond and acclimate to the new surroundings but should be gradually introduced to the exhibit in the coming weeks.

Abby, the 17-year-old Hartmann’s mountain zebra gave birth to a female foal on Monday, May 13, 2019. This is the fifth filly for Abby and fourth for father, eight-year-old, Zack. Zoo Keepers are looking for a name that starts with the letter “Z” after her dad who left the Virginia Zoo for breeding at another zoological facility in late 2018.

“The foal weighed 80 pounds and stands approximately three feet tall,” said Dr. Colleen Clabbers, the Zoo’s Veterinarian. “We were lucky to have one last filly before Zack left last year. Abby is an experienced mother and she is already taking great care of her baby,” Clabbers added. Female zebras produce a single foal every one-to-three years, after a gestation of approximately one year. The foal will stay close to her mother for eight to twelve months before being weaned.

To help name the baby, Keepers have narrowed it down to five “Z” names: Zelda, Zeta, Zambezi, Zenith, Zephyra. Cast your vote at http://virginiazoo.org/zebra-naming. The contest will end on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at Midnight and the name will be announced the following Monday on Facebook.

This is a significant birth for the species as Hartmann’s mountain zebras are threatened in the wild and there are just over 100 individuals in the North American zoos as part of the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The Zoo currently has an all-female herd, with a total of five zebras: Abby, 14-year-old Rose, three-year-old Ruuxa, one-year-old Athena and the new foal. Both mom and baby are behind the scenes to bond and acclimate to the new surroundings but should be gradually introduced to the exhibit in the coming weeks.

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