There is a truly festive feel in the air at Blackpool Zoo after the birth of a very special boy in one of its stables. The male Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra foal, which is yet to be named, is only the fourth of his kind to be born in the UK for the past decade and he is a hugely significant addition to the European Endangered Species Programme.
When senior mammal keeper Sofie Fawzy arrived for work on Monday 26th November she was delighted to find the beautiful little stripy boy up on his feet and feeding from his mother.
Blackpool Zoo broke a nine year absence of Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra births in 2011 when its other resident female, Helene, gave birth to Tebogo, who recently moved to an all-male group in Germany. The father of both foals is Fernando.
Although keepers suspected that the mother, Betty, was pregnant, a due date was not confirmed. It was hoped that, as an older mum, 19 year old Betty would give birth safely to her very first foal. Sofie, who also oversaw the birth and rearing of Tebogo, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have another foal and mother and baby are doing very well.
“It will be fantastic to see another lively young foal running around. “As it is coming up to Christmas we feel very honoured to have our own special little boy, who was born in a stable!”
Tanya Langenhorst, the International Studbook Keeper & European Breeding Programme Co-ordinator for Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra’s, added: “I would like to congratulate the team at Blackpool Zoo on another successful birth. This foal is very important and wonderful news for the breeding programme.”
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011 lists Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras as Vulnerable with a total population of less than 9000 mature individuals. Current studies indicate that this number could decline by more than 10 per cent in the next 25 years due to an increase in hunting and loss of natural habitat to agriculture.
Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras are native to Namibia and most commonly found in the extremely harsh environmental conditions of the Kunene Region in the North West. There are 16 Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra in the UK and four of them live at Blackpool Zoo. Betty and her new arrival share the paddock with Helene and Fernando, who are eight and seven respectively.
Blackpool Zoo is open at 10.00am every day of the year except Christmas Day. From Monday 5th November 2012 to February 2013 closing time is 3.45 and last admission is 3.00pm. Visitors can save on admission prices by booking online at www.blackpoolzoo.org.uk.