Keepers at Longleat Safari Park are celebrating a baby boom among their herd of Grant’s zebra.
Four have been born in the last month with two more due to arrive in the coming days. The foals are born following a year-long pregnancy, weighing just over 15kgs at birth.
Rather than their familiar black and white stripes, initially the babies have a brownish tinge to their coat which is thought to assist them in camouflaging themselves against the attention of would-be predators.
“This is definitely one of the best years ever here at Longleat for the sheer number of foals being born,” said Head of Section Ryan Hockley.
“The four youngsters are all doing well and we’re expecting the other two to arrive any day now,” he added.
Grant’s zebra are a subspecies of plains zebra and there are thought to be approximately 300,000 left in the wild.
They generally grow to be about 120 to 140 centimetres tall, and weigh around 300 kilograms.
The zebras live in family groups of up to 20 individuals, and they are led by a single stallion. In the wild Grant’s zebras live an average of 20 years but survive much longer in captivity.
At Longleat they share their 60-acre East African enclosure with a group of Rothschild’s giraffes.
In the wild the two species often congregate together as the height and eyesight of the giraffe and the keen hearing of the zebra offer mutual protection against predators.
It is thought the striped coat of a zebra acts as camouflage helping to break up the outline of individual animals and confuse would-be predators. It is also believed that the black and white pattern may deter flies.