Orphaned Baby Zebra Cared For By Animal Conservationists Wearing Special Jackets
ORPHANED BABY ZEBRA CARED FOR BY ANIMAL CONSERVATIONISTS WEARING SPECIAL JACKETS
In late February 2020, a herd of goats and their owners saved the life of a baby zebra, and the love and care of animal rights activists gave the young a chance to one day return to the wild. The zebra, named Diria after the ranch where it was rescued, arrived at Kenya's Sheldrick Wildlife Trust shortly after being rescued from a near-death experience with a lion. Diria's mother was killed by pride, and the orphaned foal instinctively ran in the opposite direction, towards the goat herd.
The shepherd took him to the Kenya Wildlife Service and then handed him over to the Trust's VOI Rehabilitation Unit. Upon Diria's arrival, the Trust went to work and cared for him as a motherly being. Rob Blandford, executive director of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, told My Modern Met, "A baby zebra must be able to recognise its mother from birth in order to survive. To learn the mother's stripes, the mother zebra often leaves the herd and leaves the baby to imprint on it. So basically, it recognises and follows its own fur, smell and vocalisations." Once the calves are able to identify their mothers, the two return to the herd.
With Diria's mother absent, it is up to the workers to raise the foal properly. “In the wild, calves are solitary-raised by their mothers, but in our reintroduction unit it is impractical for a lone individual to hand-raise diria when they take their annual leave,” Blandford notes. "In order to avoid human exposure to the imprint of this fragile newborn, our guardian wears a specially made striped cloak, which Diria recognises as her 'mother' whoever wears it. A team of caregivers can provide Delia with the specialised care he needs 24/7 to maximise his chances of survival. "
“Using our specially crafted coats, a group of zookeepers will be able to walk him through the sanctuary in the immediate vicinity of the reintroduction facility, providing him with extra care and learning about his wild environment,” says Blandford. Delia is affectionate with her caretakers and says she "loves to cuddle with them more than anything else" except at feeding times. “Keepers regularly feed them with milk and sleep in sheds at night to protect them from predators. When they are older, they are expected to return to their natural right to the wild and join the wild zebra herds that live in the immediate vicinity of the rehabilitation facility.”