Newborn Vic zebra foal shows her stripes

·2-min read

A Victorian zoo's newest zebra foal is starting to show her stripes after arriving just in time for spring.

Dajan, which translates to dark sky during heavy rain in Swahili, was born at Werribee Open Range Zoo last week to mum Dafina.

It's quite a fitting name given the filly entered the world during an evening storm.

A bit shy at first, she is starting to settle into life in the "Savannah" and give keepers an insight into her "curious and courageous" personality.

"Like any zebra foal, Dajan is staying close by her mum's side," keeper Maddy Jamieson said.

"(But) she's stepping away from mum ever so slightly to explore her surroundings and inquisitively checking out her keepers during morning feeds."

Although all three of Victoria's zoos are currently closed in line with COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, Ms Jamieson said Dajan has brought joy to the team, and hoped the news would do the same for people stuck at home.

As the third zebra foal born on site this year, Dajan will get more opportunities to learn from interacting with fellow youngsters in the dazzle.

"The foals interacting with one another will help to develop the important skills they need to thrive in a zebra herd, including skills that are vital for breeding success," Zoos Victoria's senior manager of animal welfare and life sciences Amanda Embury said.

Werribee Open Range Zoo forms part of a regional breeding program to maintain a genetically diverse herd, which in turn can support conservation efforts in the wild.

Native to Africa, plains zebras are classified as near-threatened in the wild with their population of 250,000 in decline due to threats such as agriculture, hunting, war and climate change-linked droughts.

It's not the only new beginning for Zoos Victoria, with all three of its sites now powered by renewable energy.

They are the first mainland Australian zoos to become fully green-powered, and chief executive Dr Jenny Gray hopes the milestone will inspire other similar-sized organisations to follow suit.

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