Wildlife rescuers wear stripes to become ‘mother’ for orphaned baby zebra

Wildlife sanctuaries do great, important work taking care of wild animals who cannot care for themselves. Many of them are orphaned, and the workers have to step up and essentially become their mother.

Recently one sanctuary found an inspiring way to make their poor baby zebra feel like he had a real family.

Earlier this year in Africa, a zebra foal and his mother were chased down and hunted by a lion. Sadly the lion caught the mother, but her baby was able to flee, finding sanctuary with a group of goat herders passing by.

The ranchers took the scared, newly-orphaned zebra to their ranch, giving him food and shelter.

The zebra was named Diria, after the ranch who saved him, and he was then put in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in Nairobi, Kenya.

It was important to fulfill the care and attention the zebra’s mother would’ve given him at his young age. The workers fed Diria and kept him company.

But they also used one fascinating method to earn the zebra’s trust and make him feel at home: they wore zebra stripes!

It sounds unusual but the method is based on real zebra behavior, and has proven successful in past cases.

“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 Facebook.

“A technique we have successfully employed over the years with other rescued zebras, who are now living wild.”

There are four caretakers who each wear the same stripe pattern, essentially making the zebra think they are all one mother.

“A team of caregivers can give Diria the specialist 24/7 care he needs to give him the very best chance of survival,” Amie, a representative to Sheldrick Wildlife, told Bored Panda.

The plan is working: the foal clearly loves his caregivers.

“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,” the rescue wrote.

It’s incredible how wildlife sanctuaries find ingenious ways to help their animals. We hope Diria continues to get all the help he needs and can return to the wild one day!

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