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Grevy’s zebra filly Makena takes first public steps

Makena leads Tiombe around the Saint Louis Zoo's  Red Rocks area.

Tiombe leads Makena around the Saint Louis Zoo’s Red Rocks area. © Christy Poelker/St. Louis Zoo

A Grevy’s zebra filly foal born at Saint Louis Zoo in the US state of Missouri last month has made her public debut.

The filly, named Makena (which means “happy one” in the East African language of Kikuyu) was born on June 22 to 11-year-old Tiombe, and sire Gao, who is also 11.

Esther, a lesser kudu calf, with her mum, Thelma.

Esther, a lesser kudu calf, with her mum, Thelma. © Robin Winkelman New baby addax Elsa, with her mum, Fola. New baby addax Elsa, with her mum, Fola. © Robin Winkelman Elsa and Heath. Elsa and Heath. © Robin Winkelman

Makena took her first steps in the Zoo’s Red Rocks area with her mum on Wednesday.

Researchers from the Saint Louis Zoo and Washington University are observing the zebra family as part of an on-going behavior study which will provide valuable data for zoos and researchers in the wild.

The Zoo’s Grevy’s zebras are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program responsible for maintaining a genetically healthy population of Grevy’s zebras in North American zoos.

The Saint Louis Zoo’s WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa supports conservation of the endangered Grevy’s zebra and other unique species in that region. In the last 30 years, the number of wild Grevy’s zebras has dropped sharply, from 15,000 to fewer than 2200.

The Zoo supports the Grevy’s Zebra Trust—the only organization dedicated solely to the conservation of the Grevy’s zebra. This independent wildlife conservation organization was established in 2007 to address the urgent need to conserve the endangered Grevy’s zebra in the community rangelands and work holistically to secure critical resources and safeguard this species from extinction by engaging communities in its monitoring and protection.

The Grevy’s zebra is the largest of all zebras, and its body stripes are the narrowest. Competition with livestock for food and water is the main reason for the decline in wild Grevy’s zebra populations.

The zoo has also welcome several other babies in recent weeks, with a female lesser kudu named Esther born on June 28 to Thelma and Bruce. The calf weighed 12.8 pounds at birth. These shy east African antelopes live in the safety of dense vegetation and thickets. Their sleek haircoats are marked with vertical white body stripes which camouflage them in their woodland habitat. The lesser kudu population in the wild is near threatened.

A female lowland nyala named Monsoon was born on June 10 to mother Nini and father Cloud. Monsoon weighed 15.2 pounds at birth. This elusive antelope lives in southern Africa and is one of the largest antelope, standing over four feet at the shoulder.

A female addax named Elsa was born May 15 to mother Fola. A male addax, named Heath, was born June 3 to mother Marshmella. Elsa weighed 14.4 pounds and Heath weighed 12.6 pounds at birth. The Zoo’s addax herd is a part of the AZA Addax SSP. The addax is a critically endangered species native to the Saharan Desert. The Zoo’s WildCare Institute Saharan Wildlife Recovery Center is working to protect the addax and other species in their native habitats.

Two red kangaroo joeys are now making their way out of their moms’ pouches and starting to explore their habitat. They were born about the size of lima beans back in December 2013.

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