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Kind-Hearted Keepers Put On Special Striped Coat To Comfort Orphaned Baby Zebras

Looking after wild animals is definitely not easy and their direct caregivers must be really creative sometimes. This heartwarming case at The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Kenya is a fascinating example. To make sure two orphaned baby zebras could be able to thrive without their mothers, the keepers there had their own brilliant way to become the loving mother they were both looking for.

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Founded 1977, The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust operates an orphan elephant rescue and wildlife rehabilitation program and the Trust’s staff are pretty experienced in handling many different species, including the zebra of course. When little Diria came to their Voi Reintegration Unit in February last year, the first problem that came to their mind was, how to take good care of such a young foal after his horrible past. That poor little boy survived a lion attack by hiding in a herd of goats, but his mother wasn’t that lucky. Her life was taken away right before his very eyes.

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

It’s not hard to picture how heartbroken Diria was, and that’s not the only trouble the Trust had to face while raising this orphaned baby zebra. Zebra foals need to be able to recognize their mother and remembering her stripes, smell and call is something they all have to do to survive in the wild. So, without a mother to imprint, it would be tough for the little boy to grow up in his new habitat.

So, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s keepers had come up with a genius idea to fulfill his needs: they decided to create a special striped coat to take over the role of Diria’s mother, and their tactic worked like a miracle.

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“Zebra foals imprint on their mother’s striped pattern and the coat allows Diria to imprint as nature intended, without him becoming too attached to any one individual,” the Trust explained on their Facebook page. “Diria is incredibly affectionate with his carers and, perhaps with the exception of his milk, loves nothing more than nuzzling into them as they comfortingly groom him.”

A few months later, Diria welcomed a new friend into his big family – another rescue zebra just like him, Nzuki. The two quickly got along really well and Nzuki also adored their new “mothers” a lot.

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“Now they are a few months older, these striped best friends are beginning to interact more with their wild world,” the Trust happily wrote.

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“The duo spend much of their day out and about in the company of our wider orphan family which includes the elephant orphans, our two orphaned buffalo and our Keepers in green, who watch over this unusual family as they march across the plains!”

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Now that a year has passed since the tragic accident and Diria is happier than ever. He can’t stop smiling most of the time and is really living his life to the fullest alongside his best pal!

Image credits: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

“When he’s older, it is hoped that he will eventually reintegrate into the wild and follow in the hoof-steps of other orphans who have successfully re-joined wild populations from the Voi Unit,” they continued. “With such a bright and wild future on the horizon, and a loving human family supporting him every step of the way, it’s no wonder Diria is smiling from ear-to-ear!”

Please share this moving and inspiring story with your loved ones!

H/T: The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

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