What’s new at Hogle Zoo? A bouncing baby zebra.
And bouncing is by no means an exaggeration. The still-unnamed, 5-day-old foal met the public for the first time Thursday morning, running circles around her mother, prancing, kicking up her heels and, yes, bouncing up and down
“She’s full of energy,” keeper Isaura Carballo understated.
As children and their parents trooped in to meet her, it was a chorus of “Aw, cute!” Which was also entirely accurate.
“I love her!” squealed one toddler.
If meeting the public at the age of 5 days seems quick, well, as a member of a “prey species,” zebras in the wild have get up and going immediately.
”They have to be ready to run as soon as possible in case a lion is watching,” said Hogle Zoo spokeswoman Erica Hansen.
Born Sunday at 2 a.m., the baby zebra stood up within 18 minutes, and was walking around five minutes later. She weighed in at 71 pounds at 2 days old.
The youngster is the Hogle Zoo’s fifth Hartmann’s mountain zebra and the second born there in the past 14 months. The zoo is participating in a species survival plan for the zebras.
“There are only about 9,000 in the wild, so they are considered vulnerable — which is just one step from being endangered,” Carbalo said.
“That’s why we chose that particular species when we opened African Savanna, so we could help continue the conservation messaging,” Hansen said. “We’re really excited about this birth. This one of the critical roles that zoos play. It’s about survival of a species.”
The unnamed baby — Hogle staffers are calling her “Baby” or “Dottie” (get it?) — is currently housed in a relatively small “flex” yard with her mother, Ziva; she’ll be introduced to the much-larger African Savanna exhibit later.
“We separate them long enough so that the baby can have time to memorize mom’s stripes,” Carballo said. “They have to get to know mom so she doesn’t get confused with other mares.”
And her mother, Ziva, is “proving to be a wonderful first-time mom,” Hansen said. On Thursday, a clearly annoyed Ziva continually chased away Guineafowls anytime they got close to her baby.
The foal’s father, Ziggy, is “mostly unconcerned with what’s happening,” according to Hansen.
The new zebra joins her parents; a mare named Zoey; and Zoey’s daughter, Poppy, born at Hogle Zoo in April 2017. Yes, Ziggy is the father of both foals.
The new baby zebra and her mother will be out daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — weather and mother permitting.
The zebra isn’t the only new baby at Hogle Zoo. Also newly on display are a couple of kittens — adorably, 5-week-old sand cats.
The unnamed kittens and their mother, Desiree, look pretty much like small house cats. But the species, native to North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, are definitely not domestic.
“Believe me, they’re different,” said keeper Gwendolyn LaPrairie. “These guys are definitely built for their environment. They have such a powerful smack that they can stun a venomous snake and then consume that snake.”
Yikes. Definitely not domestic kitties.
The sand cats are “built for the desert,” LaPrairie said. They live in burrows to escape temperatures that can reach 135 degrees, and their paws are covered with fur on the bottom.
“It helps with traction and walking on that hot sand,” LaPrairie said. “And it also leaves no trace. They don’t leave any footprints. So — nothing like our pretty kitties at home.”
But, in her exhibit in the zoo’s Small Animal House, Desiree looked like any other mother cat. None too sure she wanted so many people looking at her babies, she kept picking them up by the neck and carrying them into her den. And the kittens kept climbing right back out again.