Our youngest zebra, Velvet, has recently celebrated her first birthday, on January 7. When she was born she was incredibly fluffy, but now she has grown significantly and is almost the same height as her mother. She is currently living in the paddock with her mother and father, Vendella and Guinness. Her first year at Flamingo Land has gone extremely smoothly with no problems and she is settled into her enclosure. Sometimes the zebra will share the paddock with our giraffes and ostriches. These herbivorous animals are all found in the savannahs in Africa, therefore live suitably in a mixed-species exhibit. This means we are able to provide the animals with a larger space for them to share, rather than dividing it up for each species. It may also be enriching for them to hear noises and smell other species different to them.
There are different species and subspecies of zebra; ours are Grant’s zebra which are the smallest subspecies of the Plains zebra. In the wild, their population numbers are fairly high compared to other species of zebra. The Grant’s zebra are able to eat very coarse vegetation which other animals may not be able to digest, meaning they would rarely struggle to find food. The herd would often move around depending on water availability. Herds would be fairly small, with group sizes being around 10 individuals. These would be made up of one male, several females and her offspring. Males would fight other males by biting and giving powerful kicks to ensure he remains in charge of his harem of females.
Kicking may be used by zebras to defend themselves from predators. The zebra’s stripes may help it avoid being predated upon as they are thought to confuse the predators. When a herd of zebras move, the stripes give unexpected motion signals so the predators can’t work out which zebra is moving where. This increases the chances of the zebra escaping as the predator may take longer to decide which zebra it is going to target and hunt.