Wildlife Rescuer Dresses in Stripes After Baby Zebra Loses Mother
A little zebra named Diria has finally caught a break after experiencing a rather rough start in life.
In February, the baby and his mother were chased by lions, and the mother was killed. Searching for safety, the little colt ran to the closest herd he could find: a nearby herd of goats.
The farmers who had watched the whole thing happen took care of the little zebra and transported him to safety, turning him over to the Voi Reintegration Unit with the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya.
“Little Diria – named after the ranch where he was rescued – arrived into our care at the end of February 2020, fluffy and sporting brown and white stripes and a punk-like mane,” the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust posted on its Facebook page on April 21.
“Since then we have provided Diria with the constant comfort and company (and milk feeds) he would have received from his mother, with our Keepers even wearing a specially made, striped coat when they are caring for him so that he can still imprint, even though a rosta of Keepers provide for all his needs,” it said.
“As you can see, Diria is incredibly affectionate with his carers and it would seem a highlight of his day is nuzzling into them as they comfortingly groom him.”
The stripes are more than a fashion statement — the outfit helps the baby zebra recognize his carers as “mom” without imprinting on one single carer, which (according to the wildlife group’s website) means he’ll be more likely to settle in well when he is released into the wild.
“Zebra foals imprint on their mother’s striped pattern and the coat allows Diria to imprint as nature intended, without him becoming too attached to any one individual,” the website says.
“Diria is incredibly affectionate with his carers and, perhaps with the exception of his milk, loves nothing more than nuzzling into them as they comfortingly groom him.”
“Zebra coats are unique and a baby will imprint its mothers’ pattern so that it can always recognise her,” the wildlife trust shared in an update.
“Just as in the wild, our Keepers maintain close proximity to him at all times, offering personalised pampering sessions, helping to groom him and offering a reassuring presence.”
“Thanks to this expert care, he is flourishing and, you’ll notice, his stripes are starting to darken with age – we estimate him to be around three months old.”
They also explained that some scientists believe the stripes also help confuse predators and keep biting flies away.
With all the love and care this little guy has been shown, hopefully he’ll be able to be released back into the wild once he’s big and strong enough.
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