The zebra is an icon of the plains of Africa. The Grevy’s zebra is the largest and perhaps least well known of the three zebra species. They can be identified by their size (up to 430 kg), long ears, and narrow “pinstripes”. Living in small herds in the semi-arid environments of northern Kenya and Ethiopia the Grevy’s zebra grazes on grasses and may even browse from trees and shrubs when grass is not available or during droughts. The wild population of Grevy’s zebra is endangered by overhunting and habitat loss due to competition with livestock and is thought to number at 2,200 animals in Kenya. Access to freshwater resources is an area of conflict between pastoral herders and wildlife populations, and a limiting factor for populations of Grevy’s zebra. Anthrax disease outbreaks in northern Kenya have also decimated the few remaining Grevy’s zebra in recent years.
One of the first animal programs established at White Oak, Grevy’s zebras have thrived at our facility in Florida, with nearly 100 foals born here. We work closely with the AZA Grevy’s Zebra Species Survival Plan and collaborate with other zoos for the sustainability of the species. White Oak has collaborated in research projects to investigate the reproductive physiology of the Grevy’s zebra and specifically to collect and freeze semen. In 2020 four zebra foals were born at White Oak. Their births provide hope for the conservation of this endangered species.