Mama zebra names baby at Phoenix Zoo

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by Catherine Holland and Tami Hoey

Video report by Gibby Parra

Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 12 at 2:23 PM

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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Zoo's newest mom has named her baby.

Masika, a Grevy's zebra, was given three options for her 3-week-old foal -- Akili, Bakari and Pembe.

3TV's Gibby Parra and Victor Ochoa were there Wednesday morning when Masika made her decision  live on "Good Morning! Arizona" by noshing from one of three treat bags, each labeled with a name. (Her timing was impeccable.)

While dad Punta apparently didn't get a say in the matter, Masika took her time pondering the decision, hanging out at at the back of her exhibit and then sauntering casually to the front where the labeled bags -- and a crowd -- were waiting.

Once, her mind was made up, however, Masika made a beeline for the bag labeled Bakari, with her newly named little one hot on her heels.

This is the first time a zoo mom has been allowed to name her own baby.

"Any parent knows picking the name of your own kid is very important," hoofstock manager Michelle Hatwood said. "They're going to have it their whole lives."

Bakari is a Swahili name that means “one who will succeed.” Zoo officials said that name was on the list because every Grevy's zebra's birth is a symbol that the species has a chance to rebuild and survive. This foal will carry on the task to represent his species.

Bakari weighed in at an even 100 pounds when he was born on Jan 19. He and his mom are on display along the zoo's Africa trail.

Grevy's zebras are endangered with fewer than 2,500 left in the wild due to loss of habitat, competition with livestock and poaching. As the largest zebra species, Grevy's can be distinguished from other zebras by their longer legs, more narrow stripes, white, stripeless underbelly and large rounded ears.

Grevy's zebras are only found in northern Kenya and south eastern Ethiopia. The Phoenix Zoo is dedicated to saving Grevy's zebras through conservation in the wild and on Zoo grounds. Both foals are the result of a breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, which ensures the genetic diversity of select species.

The Phoenix Zoo is also a proud partner of the Grevy's Zebra Trust, an organization dedicated to the conservation of Grevy's zebras.

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