Visitors to Marwell Zoo recently got more than they bargained for when a rare zebra gave birth right in front of them.
Onlookers were amazed to see the endangered Grevy’s zebra deliver the healthy foal in the zoo’s Wild Explorers paddock, which is located opposite Marwell’s Grade 1 listed hall.
Keepers kept a close eye on the zebra from a safe distance and answered guests’ questions, while Ellen, a first-time mother, gave birth in just 30 minutes.
The yet-to-be-named new arrival brings Marwell’s total number of Grevy’s zebras to six.
“We knew Ellen was soon to be expecting so we have been monitoring her and allowing her access to the paddock and the indoor area”, explains Marwell’s Hoofstock Team Leader, Tim Rowlands.
“Zebra normally like to do their own thing and take themselves away, so giving birth in the middle of the afternoon in front of a crowd of guests isn’t common, but she wasn’t concerned by the interest and it was a very smooth delivery with the healthy foal arriving in around half an hour. The foal is enjoying exploring, though is still staying close to its mother, who is the dominant female of the herd and is being very protective.”
With fewer than 3,000 individuals left in the wild, the Grevy’s zebra is one of Africa’s rarest large mammals. They can only be found in small, isolated areas of Northern Kenya and Ethiopia.
Conservation charity Marwell Wildlife, which owns and manages Marwell Zoo, has helped Kenya develop a national conservation programme for the species, with assistance from supporters across Europe.
For information on visiting Marwell Zoo, go to: www.marwell.org.uk
Watch footage of mother zebra and foal in the paddock at Marwell Zoo here