Four endangered Grevy’s zebra foals were recently born at a wildlife refuge in northeast Florida.
The zebras — three males and one female — were born in June and July, officials at White Oak Conservation said in a news release. They are being raised by their mothers. Neither the foals nor their mothers have names.
White Oak is a 17,000-acre (6,879 hectare) refuge in Yulee, which is north of Jacksonville. The nonprofit is home to more than 30 wildlife species, including 18 that are endangered, such as Grevy’s zebras, Florida panther, cheetahs, Florida grasshopper sparrow and Southern white rhinos, the release said.
The refuge is closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. But its conservation work is continuing.
White Oak has been home to Grevy's zebras since 1977, with 96 born at the facility, the news release said. Only about 2,000 adult Grevy's zebras are left in the wild, down from 15,000 in the 1970s.
“The Grevy’s zebra is near extinction because of severe habitat loss,” said philanthropist Mark Walter, who with his wife Kimbra owns White Oak.
The foals likely won't be released into the wild since they are part of an “assurance program," which makes sure a genetically diverse and sustainable population of Grevy's zebras survive in case the species becomes extinct, said Brandon Speeg, the facility's director of conservation.
“Grevy’s zebras form social groups and live in herds at White Oak, as they would in the wild,” Speeg said. “When the young males mature, they’ll go to live with bachelor herds.”
The facility has enough land to provide space for the zebras to disperse as they would in the wild, he added.