Welcome Athena! Adorable foal boosts zebra population

  • An adorable new arrival has helped boost the population of a rare species of zebra.

    Hartmann’s mountain zebra, Athena, was born on 5 March at Virginia Zoo in the United States.

    Athena is the fourth filly for mother Abby, 16, and third for her father, seven-year-old Zack.

    At birth she weighed 80lbs and stood at approximately three-feet-tall (9hh).

    Keepers picked “Athena” based on the zoo’s tradition of choosing a name using the first initial of the mother’s name.

    “Abby is a great, experienced mum and is taking good care of baby Athena,” said Dr Colleen Clabbers, the zoo’s vet.

    Mother and foal are being kept behind the scenes at the zoo during the cooler weather, but are planned to be moved into areas where the public can see them in the near future.

    Athena will stay with to her mother for eight to 12 months before being weaned.

    “This is a significant birth for the species as Hartmann’s mountain zebras are threatened in the wild and there are less than 60 individuals in the North American zoos as part of the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan,” added a Virginia Zoo spokesman.

    Virginia Zoo has four Hartmann’s mountain zebras, Abby, Zack, Athena and 13-year-old Rose.

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    The Hartmann’s mountain zebra is a subspecies of the mountain zebra, which is native to Angola and Namibia.

    All zebra species are threatened or vulnerable to extinction. The biggest threats to the population are habitat loss due to farming and competition for water with livestock. Zebras are also poached for their skins.

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