The Zebras Move in with the Giraffes

Charlie the zebra and Mtembei the giraffe meet for the first time. Suddenly Charlie was presented with an unexpected shift in perspective.

The Houston Zoo has something new in the African Forest – zebra! Our two zebra, Charlie and Image, are joining the giraffe and ostriches in their yard. Monday morning Charlie was introduced to the ostrich and giraffe, and soon Image will join them.

These two zebra have been with the Houston Zoo for many years, and have resided in the West Hoofrun yard alongside several other species, including giant eland, nyala and warthogs. Just last week the nyala Ginger and Niles had a calf, a beautiful brown-haired boy the keepers have dubbed Cashew. He was born at almost exactly the same time as our latest giraffe addition, baby Ghubari, who was born to experienced mom Tyra. (Thanks to everone who participated in the vote to choose the name for this little guy!)

Baby Cashew is healthy and mom is doing a great job of caring for her calf. However, Charlie and Image have been a bit too curious about this new addition to their yard. Charlie in particular has been standing over the calf frequently, whether to offer it some additional protection & shade or out of curiosity, we can only guess. As a result it had become challenging for mom to nurse with a zebra in the way.

So Hoofed Stock Supervisor John Register worked with curator Daryl Hoffman, Vice President Sharon Joseph and Zoo Director Rick Barongi to determine a solution. They brainstormed and evaluated six different options, and concluded that the best solution would be to move the zebra over to join the giraffe.

On Sunday, John and his staff worked to complete the move.  Charlie and Image are senior zebra – Charlie is 29 and Image is 31 years old. Both were offered some special food treats inside the trailer to encourage them to walk in, but only Charlie would go. Image will make the trip soon.

Charlie was given the run of the giraffe yard early Monday morning while the giraffes waited in the barn.  John’s thinking was that Charlie would feel more comfortable with a gradual introduction. The ostrich were the first to meet Charlie.  She seemed curious about the big birds.

At approximately 9:30am John  opened the gate, and the giraffes and Charlie were allowed to meet for the first time. Mtembei, new father and head male of the giraffe herd, was first out to greet Charlie. She was immediately curious and even went into the barn to say hello to her other new yardmates.

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