What's new at Basel Zoo

Female baby zebra Niara was born at Basel Zoo on 16 December. Her name means ‘one with high purpose’. This lively little girl can be found out and about outside in the Africa enclosure even when the weather is cold. The current wintry temperatures do not seem to be bothering most of the other zoo animals either.

This little mare is the first child to be born to Jua (5), who therefore needed a bit of practice to get suckling right: initially the inexperienced mother did not like Niara stretching her head under her mother’s stomach from the side to drink the available milk. Hunger made Niara creative, and she eventually – and successfully – tried reaching from the back.

Niara’s father Tibor (7) is also a member of the herd. However, he paid little attention to the little one, instead being more interested that Jua was in heat two weeks after the birth (as is usual for zebras). The zebra herd also includes the foal’s grandmother Chambura (12), Lazima (3), and little Nyati (1/2). Niara will soon be getting to know the little ostriches who are her fellow inhabitants. The ostriches and zebras are currently making alternate use of the Africa enclosure, as zebras are very inquisitive and like to play at hunting the smaller birds.

The zebras are not really bothered by the current cold weather: they are allowed into the warm stalls by the zoo keepers several times a day before heading back out for a few laps. Most of the other zoo animals also do not seem to mind the current chill or are in fact even enjoying it, as is the case for the Gentoo and king penguins, snow leopards and bison. Heated stalls are currently available for animals which do not cope well with the cold. Even the giraffes were making daily trips to the outdoor enclosure up until recently, but now black ice has formed so they are only being allowed onto the covered veranda.