Nation’s largest zebra herd grows at Lion Country Safari
Baby Plains zebra, recently born at Lion Country Safari, standing with her mother in the Hwange section of the park.
Photos and video by Lion Country Safari.
Lion Country Safari offers drive-through safari park visitors the chance to see the largest herd of zebras in the United States.
On Oct. 16, that herd got bigger.
The birth of an unnamed female Plains foal — Lion Country Safari doesn’t name its zebras — was the second addition of 2022, after the May 6 birth of a male. The zebra population is now 56: 34 females and 22 males.
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Born with soft, fuzzy fur and brown and white stripes, the healthy foal and her mother can be seen in the Hwange section of the cage-free park. The foal is estimated to have weighed 55 to 88 pounds at birth after a gestation of 11 to 13 months. Foals can walk and even run approximately one hour after birth.
Baby Plains zebra and her mother.
“Because they’re very close to their moms, we’re not able to get in there and get an exact weight without disrupting that,” says Haley McCann-Gonzales, the park’s public relations and social media manager. “But it’s easier to gauge how healthy they are from afar by how they’re walking and nursing.”
Plains zebras are one of three species, the other two being Mountain and Grevy’s. The most abundant of the three, Plains zebras are nonetheless labeled “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. All are imperiled by poaching and habitat destruction in eastern and southern Africa.
“The three species have slightly different ranges throughout Africa,” McCann-Gonzales says, “and there are genetic variations. They also have different types of stripe patterns. Plains zebras are known for pretty thick stripes across the body, while Mountain and Grevy’s tend to have thinner ones or a combination. For each individual zebra in a species, their stripes will be unique.”
Video of the baby zebra and her mother at Lion Country Safari.
With more than 1,000 wild animals on nearly 600 acres, Lion Country Safari was voted the fifth-best safari park in America over the summer in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice 2022 poll, up from eighth in 2021.
“We’re very excited about placing in the Top 10 again,” McCann-Gonzales says. “We have placed in the Top 10 since at least 2018.”
Open since 1967, Lion Country Safari has much more than zebras. Believed to be the first cageless zoo in the country, its multiple owners realized that South Florida’s year-round tropical climate could support animals from six continents.
A baby rhinoceros named Ruby, born in August, was the third such birth of 2022. Lions are abundant, and visitors can see giraffes, chimpanzees, ostriches, water buffalo, alpacas, wildebeest, goats, birds and many more animals.
The 56 zebras aren’t close to the park’s most populous herd. McCann-Gonzales says Lion Country has approximately 150 of an Asian antelope called blackbuck.
Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Lion Country Safari has seven main habitats of largely free-roaming animals, and the park participates in eco-friendly programs and species survival plans for breeding and conservation of multiple threatened species.
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Lion Country Safari also includes an adventure park with a splash playground and water slides, a petting zoo, a mini-golf putting course, and pontoon and paddle boats.
The park is at 2003 Lion Country Safari Road in Loxahatchee (561-709-8431). Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Adult tickets are $41 plus fees and taxes; tickets for children ages 3 to 9 cost $31 plus fees and taxes. Children 2 and under are admitted free. Tickets are good for six months after purchase. For further information, visit lioncountrysafari.com.