Grevy's Zebra Breeding
The Grevy’s Zebra is the largest of the three zebra species. Due to it’s stunning pelt it was hunted heavily in the last century, contributing to a devastating 87% fall in numbers since 1970. The banning of hunting in 1977 was not enough to protect this species, and ZSL breeds Grevy’s Zebra as part of the EEP that was set up to safeguard their future.
Grevy’s Zebra are one of the EDGE species , as well as being Endangered in the IUCN Red list. There are over 100 organisations taking part in the Grevy's Zebra EEP, with around 500 captive zebra, a significant number considering there are only a few thousand in the wild. Our breeding work with this species at Whipsnade is therefore very important.
Good cooperation and animal exchanges between zoos in the programme, managed with a studbook held by Marwell Zoo, means the European population is very genetically healthy. Our breeding group is currently made up of 7 individuals and several of our animals are imports from Europe. We have had 26 foals born since we started breeding Grevy's Zebra at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. The oldest is Martha, born at Whipsnade in 1991, the youngest addition is a female born at the end of 2010. 2012 look set to be another successful year, with a female due to give birth from May. You can visit the Grevy's zebra and new arrivals at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo .
Mating and Foaling
Grevy's zebras have the longest gestation of all equids- 13-14 months. This means we have to plan well in advance to have births occurring in spring or summer, so usually put males and females together in March/April the previous year. We know when to put the male in with a female because she can show signs of being in oestrous by the way that she stands, or we simply put them together for a few weeks and hope to catch an oestrous during that time.
Mating can be a tough affair for the male. He will chase the female around and often receiving strong backward kicks to the face and chest until the female allows him to mount her. It is essential to have a large paddock for this mating behaviour to occur, as well as allowing lots of grazing and exercise every day and space for animals that want some alone-time. Unlike the close fiamily groups of common zebra, Grevy's zebras form loosely associated groups with bachelor males being largely solitary.
We allow the foals to be born in the paddock- in the first few days the mother and newborn will tend to keep away from the rest of the group, then will join the group after a week or so. Find out more about Grevy's Zebra .
Take a look at a video of our latest arrival: