Animal prints may be going out of fashion, but there’s a noble cause behind this fashion crime. These rescuers wear this zebra coat to mimic the stripes of this orphaned baby zebra’s mother – prepare to have your heart melted.
Baby Zebra Survives Lion Attack by Hiding with Goats
In February 2020, a tragic encounter with lions at a ranch bordering Tsavo East National Park left Diria orphaned. His mother was killed, and in a desperate attempt to escape, the foal found refuge among a herd of goats. The farmer who discovered him with the goats brought him to the Kenya Wildlife Service, who later handed him over to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s VOI Reintegration Unit.
Why They Wear Stripes
At the Trust, caregivers adopted an innovative approach to ensure Diria’s wellbeing. Recognizing the importance of a young zebra’s ability to identify its mother, the rescuers came up with the idea of wearing a zebra-print jacket. This coat mimics the mother zebra’s unique pattern, helping Diria to imprint and find comfort with his human caregivers, a crucial step for his survival and development.
Because Diria has imprinted on the stripes of the jacket, he’ll happily snuggle up and be cared for by whoever’s wearing the jacket. This solves the issue of him imprinting on a single person.
Here’s a video of Diria being fed by one of his carers – of course donned in the iconic coat.
How Baby Zebras Imprint on Their Mother’s Stripes
In the wild, a mother zebra isolates herself with her newborn, allowing the foal to imprint on her unique stripe pattern, scent, and call. This process is vital for the young zebra to recognize and follow its mother, ensuring its safety and integration into the herd.
Each zebra’s coat is distinct, much like a human fingerprint. This uniqueness is not just for show; it plays a significant role in the zebra’s life and survival.
The stripes help zebras recognize each other, a critical aspect for mother-foal bonding and for maintaining group cohesion within herds. Research suggests that these patterns may also play a role in confusing predators during a chase.
Can Zebras Tell Each Other Apart?
Zebras, equipped with their unique stripe patterns, can indeed differentiate each other. This ability is crucial for their survival, aiding in social cohesion and protection against predators, as it helps maintain group unity and allows mothers to recognize their foals.
Rescuers Wear Stripes: Conclusion
In conclusion, the story of Diria, the orphaned baby zebra, reminds us that sometimes the silly and simple solutions are sometimes the best ones. Normally, I’d keep zebra print far away from my wardrobe, but if it meant that I could cuddle with a baby zebra I wouldn’t waste a second!
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