Christmas with stripes at Auckland Zoo

By James Ihaka

It's an early Christmas for Auckland Zoo with just the second birth of a baby zebra at the zoo in the past 15 years.

The yet-to-be-named foal, which weighed 30kg and was walking within 40 minutes of being delivered by his mother Itika on Saturday.

And he was trotting and running within the hour.

His birth is good news for zoo staff after the young zebra's father, Monty, died last month.

"It's terrific, we couldn't be happier. He's completely healthy and completely as he should be. He can already outrun you or I," said Michael Batty, Auckland Zoo's Pridelands team leader.

Mr Batty said the foal, which he said was already extremely confident, would be valuable in helping to ensure New Zealand's zebra stocks remained healthy.

"We do need more of them, and as a male he will now be used to go somewhere else probably to breed with other zebras."

The young zebra and his mother will go on display with the other two zebras within days, and will be gradually integrated into the giraffe paddock.

Home address: Eastern and Southern Africa.
Conservation risk: Loss of habitat is a concern, as is poaching tail hair for jewellery.
Diet: Mother's milk for the first six months. Newborns also start eating grass and hay within weeks.
Life expectancy: About 25 years in captivity.

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