What's new at Basel Zoo

During the night on 4 June, a zebra foal called Panja was born at Basel Zoo, which caused great excitement among the rest of the herd.

The small but strong female zebra Panja is the second foal born to mother Jua (6). When Jua gave birth to her first foal at the end of 2017, she needed a little practice at letting her foal suckle before it became natural. This time, however, she has shown herself to be a seasoned mother. She is attentive, placing herself between the ditch and her foal so that it does not fall into the water and protecting Panja from Tibor (8) the stallion when he gets a little too forward and comes too close.

Red-blooded father

Tibor is Panja’s father. As is common among zebras, he behaved very aggressively towards both mother and foal at the beginning: he kept flattening his ears against his head and trying to bite the pair. He has since become somewhat calmer. This is because he is interested in Jua again as it has been one or two weeks since she gave birth and she has come back into heat in the past few days, which is normal for zebras. If a mare is ready to mate, the stallion wants to show her his best side.

For the first few days after their foal has been born, the mother will usually keep the other members of the herd at a distance, behaviour which Jua is sticking to religiously. The herd is also made up of Chambura (13), Lazima (4), Nyati (1-2), Tibor (8) and Niara (1). Panja has already met the ostriches, who share the enclosure with the zebras.

At home in East Africa

In Africa, the natural habitat of the plains zebra, zebras do not form fixed herds that remain the same for many years. Young zebras leave the herd when they are around one and a half and new, sexually mature females join the existing herd. The stallion may also be replaced by a younger counterpart. This behaviour prevents inbreeding and allows the different populations to stay healthy.

Zebras are widespread in East Africa, where they live in the savannah and open forests. A zebra’s stripe pattern is its most striking feature and as unique as a human fingerprint.

Sharing with the ostriches
Basel Zoo’s Africa enclosure is a community enclosure with zebras, ostriches and hippopotamuses. It opened in July 1992. During the day, a partition exists between the zebras and the ostriches on one side of the enclosure and the hippopotamuses on the other side, preventing any direct contact between the animals. At night, either the hippopotamuses or the zebras can then use the enclosure.