Paignton Zoo have moved their zebra to a brand new, custom-built home in the next stage of their major redevelopment project.
The zoo made the decision to move the zebra from their hillside home to their new stables to provide a more naturalistic environment for them. In their native habitat in Namibia, South Africa and Angola, zebra spend their time on dry, stony land: quite the contrast to the soft Devon soil on the hillside of their current paddock, which can cause issues with their hooves.
Over the past few years, zoo staff have had to ensure the zebra spend enough time on their gravel hardstand so that they can wear their hooves down, meaning that the herd have had limited access to their wider enclosure. Their new yard will provide a hard, stony stand for their hooves to wear down naturally as they graze, which will also allow the zebra to have full access to the new paddock all year round.
The move will mean that keepers can also control the zebras’ diet more closely. Since the grass in their old paddock was grown on rich soil, they consumed a lot of sugar through grazing. Being left to gorge on the sugary grass can cause a variety of health issues, including colic and laminitis, in the same way that it can in domestic horses. The zebras’ ideal diet is more fibre-heavy and less sugary, so without the expanse of grassland to snack on keepers will be able to make sure they’re getting the best nutrition.
Paignton Zoo is home to four female Hartmann’s mountain zebra: Taru and daughter Tamali, and Leila and daughter Lia. Team Leader of Large Mammals Stuart Parr said:
“This is an exciting move for our zebra that has been a long time in the planning. This move might look like a big change to visitors that are used to seeing our zebra on their grassy hill, but the new home is much more similar to their natural environment, so it’s really good to see them settling in.”
The next stage of developments also required moving the giraffe over to the old elephant paddock, which proved to be quite the challenge. Stuart added:
“Giraffes are very nervous animals, and since Duchess the elephant died in 2019 they have been reluctant to move across. Thanks to some careful coaxing with food, the giraffe have slowly began to explore the new paddock.”
Paignton Zoo will be continuing to make developments throughout their centenary year and beyond, with an exciting new baboon enclosure set to be built in the zebra’s previous home.
You can book tickets to see Paignton Zoo’s zebra in their new home here.