Visitors to the popular Good Zoo at Oglebay Park have a very special opportunity awaiting them that involves getting a good look at several very "flashy" animals who are now part of the local zoo's permanent population, each sporting its own distinctive black and white markings of a type not likely seen locally before these three arrived.
he treat: getting an early look at three zebra that have just recently been acquired by Good Zoo.
The animals represent two very different species of zebra: one common, the Grant's zebra; and another considered very rare and extremely endangered, the Grevy's zebra.
THIS MAJESTIC Grant’s zebra is one of several new animals now making its home at The Good Zoo at Oglebay Park. The Grant’s zebra has broad black stripes that go clear down under the belly, and the legs are striped down to the hooves.
The zoo has added one of the endangered Grevy's zebra and two of the Grant's zebra to the permanent population of the facility.
"We have been introducing them into the enclosure one at a time. They will be sharing the environment with our three ostrich," explained Good Zoo Director Penny Miller.
In their native environment on the African continent, the zebra and the ostrich would likely share the space as well, making the plan to house the two groups inside one area at Good Zoo a truly natural fit, explained the zoo's director.
The zebra would normally be found making their home in areas of Kenya or Somalia, said Miller.
Life in that region for these animals is difficult at best.
"The ability of the wildlife there to sustain itself as a healthy population in recent decades has been almost impossible thanks to devastating droughts, substantial loss of natural habitat, and the fact that wildlife are now having to share the range with domestic livestock," said Miller.
Add to that the man-made threat that comes from hunters hoping to kill and possess the dramatically striped zebra hides and you have a recipe for disaster and even potential extension of a species, say experts.
The Grevy's zebra is already considered heavily endangered as its worldwide population has dropped to barely 2,300. Good Zoo is now home to one, a mare, which has come from nearby Pittsburgh Zoo, shared Miller.
Good Zoo is now also home to two female Grant's zebra, a species of zebra considered much less threatened than is the Grevy's zebra, she explained. These two came to the local zoo from a conservation program in Florida.
Grant's zebra, because of their larger population numbers, are considered common when compared to the endangered Grevy's zebra.
While all three zebra are certainly a new sight for zoo guests to enjoy seeing, Miller is also pleased with the new additions to the zoo's permanent population, as they all three are expected to bring subsequent opportunities for connections to breeding program populations.
Information about all Grevy's zebra is maintained in one database with decisions made about breeding plans being made to sustain the species' genetics.
"The zebra will be something new for us to bring into our community education programs," said Miller. "They are a great addition to the zoo population, and are particularly appreciated as a way of adding back to our hoof-stock."
Visitors to the popular zoo can look forward to seeing the three zebra living right alongside the already well known ostrich population in the area which formerly housed bison.
The zebra and ostrich will be easily seen by zoo visitors enjoying a relaxed trek through the popular attraction aboard the train, or at the ostrich viewing area, explained Miller.
"The two species are easy to tell apart, based on their stripes and other characteristics," said Miller.
"The Grant's zebra has broad black stripes that go clear down under the belly, and the legs are striped down to the hooves. They live in the southern Sudan through Somalia, and south to Zambia. Grant's zebras are still common in zoos and in the wild.
The Grevy's zebra is the largest of the zebra species.
They have big, round ears and very narrow stripes that stop at the edge of the belly. Grevy's zebras now live in Ethiopia and Kenya, but once ranged from Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya. Grevy's zebras have to compete with domestic livestock for water and grazing areas, and anthrax outbreaks and over-collection for their skins have taken a large number. Many accredited zoos across the country are breeding Grevy's zebras," she said.
"Some of which have been shipped to Kenya and released to restock wild populations," said Miller.
"The zebras are a permanent addition to the zoo's growing collection of rare and unique species and will be exhibited in the ostrich field along with the zoo's three ostriches. They may be viewed from the train or the ostrich viewing area.
"Come see these beautiful animals and see if you can pick out the Grevy's from the Grant's!" Miller added.
Other additions that have been made to the Good Zoo's permanent population have included the lorikeets, kangaroos, and the African Wild Dogs.
"Whenever possible we try as a zoo to use our available space to make homes for endangered species," said Miller.
The policy is one which continues to keep the zoo well connected to other related resources such as the breeding program for the Grevy's zebra," said Miller. "It is also a great way for us to continue growing our public education and conservation programs.
Miller said she expects the zebra to be very popular quickly with zoo visitors, as the coming months are favorites for those planning school field trips to the zoo.
"I have always considered zebra to be a flashy animal, one look at the beautiful black and white designs they each have and you will see why," shared Miller.
Adding to the resources available at the zoo to serve the informational needs of the public will be the addition of the most recent group of teen docents who will graduate April 24 from the zoo's own training program which lasts for several months.
A trip to the zoo to see these beautiful animals is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and to get up and moving as winter gives way to spring and summer, she noted.
The zoo's summer camps are so popular that registrations are already being taken, said Miller.
Additional information about the zoo's popular summer camps and programs can be found via the internet, or the zoo education office can be contacted directly.
The zoo is currently open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults, $5.50 for ages 3 to 12 and free for under age 3. Good zoo members are admitted free.
For more information contact the zoo at 304-243-4030 or visit www.oglebay-resort.com/goodzoo.