Some Guests riding Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park were treated to a truly wonderful experience on May 17 when they were able to witness the birth of the theme park’s newest member, an adorable baby zebra. The healthy male foal was born on the savanna in the morning and was standing next to its mother within minutes.
Dr. Mark Penning, the Vice President, Animals, Science, and Environment at Disney Parks and Resorts reported on the birth on the Disney Parks Blog. Dr. Penning wrote:
Mom Heidi is a parenting pro – staying close to her baby to bond and nurse. Bonding is especially important, as a young zebra will imprint on its mother’s scent and memorize the unique markings on its mother’s hind legs to tell her apart from others in the herd. In the coming weeks, the pair will rejoin sister Asha and the rest of the herd on the savanna.
The new Hartmann’s Mountain zebra foal was born as part of a program that Disney participates in called the Species Survival Program. The Species Survival Program is run by The Association of Zoos and Aquariums that is designed to ensure genetic diversity within hundreds of species of animals. The Hartmann’s Mountain zebras are a threatened species due to hunting and habitat loss.
Dr. Penning wrote about the celebratory nature of the birth — the first zebra birth of the year:
Today’s joyful arrival marks the first zebra birth at Walt Disney World this year. The resort is home to three distinct types of zebra: Hartmann’s mountain zebra, Grevy’s zebra and plains zebra. Though zebra may all be defined by their stripes, there are distinct stripe patterns that define each type. Hartmann’s mountain and Grevy’s zebras have stripes that stop right at the edge of their bellies, while stripes on common zebras wrap around the whole body. You can tell a Grevy’s zebra from a Hartmann’s mountain zebra by looking at their ears. They are larger on the Grevy’s zebra.
Four zebras were born at Disney World last year, with the new foal bringing the total number of zebra births to 14 since Disney joined the breeding program. The new — currently unnamed — foal is not the first animal addition to the Disney family this year. Earlier in April, a mandrill gave birth to a new baby named Ivy, also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
To see these adorable new additions to the Animal Kingdom family, Guests can ride Kilimanjaro Safaris and have a chance to see them.
Will you be riding Kilimanjaro Safaris to see the new baby zebra? Let us know in the comments!
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