Black and white has never looked so bright

14 January 2022

Werribee Open Range Zoo has welcomed the pitter patter of four little grey hooves following the birth of a male zebra this week.

Colt, Zintlanu [pronounced: Zint-lan-oo] – meaning number five in Xhosa – was born last weekend to mum, Zaide [pronounced: Zay-ee-dee] and father, Melako. Zintlanu is the fifth foal born between the pair.  

The colt is the first male zebra born at the Zoo since 2018, and one of four foals born in just over a year during a zebra baby boom.  

Werribee Open Range Zoo Savannah Keeper Lance Weldhagen said it was an equally exciting and interesting time to see four zebra foals interacting with one another on the Savannah. 

“It’s wonderful to see the foals engaging with each other, developing life skills and growing together,” Mr Weldhagen said. “Zintlanu has found his feet very quickly. He has very long legs, is very strong and healthy, and is drinking from mum which we want to see.”  

Zoos Victoria Senior Manager Animal Welfare & Life Sciences, Amanda Embury, said the birth of Zintlanu will provide an important future breeding male to support the threatened species and the region’s regional breeding program. 

Having male and female foals represents typical group structure for wild zebra,” Ms Embury said. “For any successful breeding program, it’s important that breeding pairs produce both male and female offspring.” 

“Zintlanu birth will additionally provide increased social opportunities for Werribee Open Range Zoo’s growing herd.”  

Visitors to Werribee Open Range Zoo are able to see Zintlanu and his fellow zebra foals roaming the Savannah while on a day bus tour, which run throughout the day and are included in entry. Visitors also have a wonderful opportunity to see Zintlanu during the Zoo’s special after-hours wildlife experience, Sunset Safari. 

Plains zebras are native to Africa and are classified as near-threatened in the wild. Their population of 250,000 is in decline, with major threats including competing with agriculture, hunting, war and droughts caused by climate change. The zebras at Werribee Open Range Zoo form part of a regional breeding program to maintain a genetically diverse herd that can support conservation of wild zebra populations. 

Anyone can support zebra conservation through Zoos Victoria’s Beads for Wildlife initiative. Funds raised through the sale of handmade beadwork via Zoos Victoria’s retail stores go towards protecting the rangelands where zebras reside in Northern Kenya.