November 12, 2008

What's black and white and new all over (at the Zoo)?

The Racine Zoo has two new residents: female zebras acquired from the Glen Oak Zoo in Peoria.

One is a 25-year-old Grant’s zebra, while the other is a 4-year-old Damara zebra. While these two subspecies share many similarities, the most notable difference is the existence of a gray shadow of a stripe between the dark stripes on the Damara. (Which would make the one pictured here the ... um, Damara?)

The zebras are not being exhibited yet, due to standard quarantine procedures involved with any animal transfer. The quarantine allows them to be monitored closely to ensure they are healthy and do not have any communicable illnesses that went undetected at their prior residence or were acquired during transport. This practice also ensures that the Zoo’s current collection is safe from any threat of an undiscovered illness.

The quarantine will end later this month and the zebras will be exhibited in the Charles and Jennifer Johnson Land of the Giants when the black rhinos, that are less cold-tolerant, move inside for winter. The two species would not be shown together due to space limitations.

Zebras are native to eastern and southern Africa. Subsisting on grass, these herbivores have unique striping patterns exclusive to the individual – similar to the fingerprints of a human. At the Zoo, the zebras will eat hay, a specially formulated zebra pellet, and, eventually, alfalfa.

“We are thrilled to add zebras to our collection. We know these will be very popular animals. Acquiring them has been an undertaking in the works for over two years,” said Jay Christie, Racine Zoo president and CEO.

Zoo guests and passers-by on North Main Street might notice a protective black tarp on the fence facing Main Street on the Zoo’s North end. The temporary barrier is part of the Zoo’s new giraffe exhibit and is up while the two giraffes who arrived in early June become accustomed to the nearby vehicle and foot traffic.

The Racine Zoo is open daily between Labor Day and Memorial Day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 3-15, $3 for seniors and children under three; Zoo members are free.

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