Third baby zebra dazzles at Werribee Open Range Zoo

01 September 2021

What better way to mark the start of the spring season than with the birth of a zebra foal at Werribee Open Range Zoo – the third born on the Savannah this year.

Filly, Dajan [pronounced: Da-jarn] – meaning dark sky during heavy rain in Swahili – was born last week during an evening storm to mum, Dafina, and joins half-sisters Zola and Falah.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Savannah keeper Maddy Jamieson said Dajan is settling into life on the Savannah extremely well.

“Like any zebra foal, Dajan is staying close by her Mum’s side,” Ms Jamieson said. “She is bright, sprightly and healthy and we’re very happy to see her feeding from mum.”

Ms Jamieson said Dajan was initially quite shy, but has begun showing her personality.

“She’s really curious and courageous in nature. She’s stepping away from mum ever so slightly to explore her surroundings and inquisitively checking out her keepers during morning feeds.

“It’s amazing and really nice to have so many healthy babies out on the savannah, especially with spring now here. It’s bringing a lot of joy to the Zoo team and we hope this news will bring joy to everyone at home as well.”

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.

Zoos Victoria Senior Manager Animal Welfare & Life Sciences, Amanda Embury, said the opportunity for Dajan to grow up alongside zebras of a similar age provides increased opportunities for social interactions.

“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,” Ms Embury said. “Having several foals in the herd increases opportunities for learning – the foals can learn from one another as well as from adults in the group.”

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. 

Zoos Victoria’s three zoos – Werribee Open Range Zoo, Melbourne Zoo and Healesville Sanctuary – are currently closed to members and visitors in line with current COVIDSafe directions. However, animal lovers at home can stay connected with Werribee Open Range Zoo’s lions through Zoos Victoria’s live stream cameras at zoo.org.au/animals-at-home.