Baby zebra born at Phoenix Zoo; awaits name

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PHOENIX --The Phoenix Zoo is proud to announce its newest resident: a baby zebra!

The male Grevy's zebra was born on Jan. 19 to mom Masika and dad Punta. The 100 pound baby is now on display to the public along the zoo's Africa Trail.

Zoo officials tell us the new addition enjoys exploring his exhibit and has been playing with another male foal, Utambo, born just a couple of months earlier in November to his mother Afiya. Both foals share the same father.

The baby has plenty of spirit, and his cute factor is through the roof! But what he doesn't have yet is a name.

That will come Wednesday morning  at 9:30, during a naming ceremony. Zookeepers say mom Masika will choose from three bags of treats, each labeled with a possible name. Whichever bag the mother zebra selects will become the baby's new name.

The first name is Pembe, which is Swahili for "horn". Even though zebras do not have horns, the Grevy's zebra's historical range encompasses the majority of the Horn of Africa.

The second name choice is Bakari, which is Swahili for "one who will succeed". The reason for this choice is that 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.

The final name choice is Akili, the Swahili word for "cleverness". Zookeepers say the foal is very clever at figuring out how to get his brother to start playing with him.

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.