Christmas-born Baby Zebra Dies at Arizona Zoo

  • Baby zebra named Tikiti Maji dies at Reid Park Zoo in Arizona after suffering a fatal neck injury from running into a fence while playing.
  • Zoo expresses heartbreak over loss and praises mother zebra, Anna, for her attentiveness.
  • Grevy’s zebra species, to which Tikiti Maji belonged, is endangered with fewer than 2,500 remaining in the wild.

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A baby zebra named Tikiti Maji died at Reid Park Zoo in Arizona on Tuesday. Tikiti Maji suffered a neck injury after running into a fence while playing alongside her mother, Anna. The injury was fatal, and the baby zebra died instantly. The zoo expressed their heartbreak over the loss and praised Anna for being an attentive mother. Tikiti Maji was born on Christmas morning and had become increasingly adventurous and independent as she grew.

The zoo’s President and CEO, Nancy Kluge, extended her sympathies to Anna and the animal care professionals who worked tirelessly to care for Tikiti Maji. The zoo’s Director of Animal Care, Adam Ramse, described the loss as unexpected and expressed how much Tikiti Maji’s playful nature and energetic spirit had endeared her to the care team.

The baby zebra was given the name Tikiti Maji, which means “watermelon” in Swahili. The name was chosen because Anna enjoyed eating watermelon while she was pregnant. As Anna grieves, the zoo will provide her with extra care and support. Anna’s son, Haroo, had recently been transferred to another zoo.

The zoo highlighted the delicacy of zebra foals, noting that young zebras have a high mortality rate and can easily become startled. Anna had previously lost another foal in July 2020. In preparation for Tikiti’s birth, the zoo made modifications to the zebra habitat to improve barrier visibility and provided Anna and her foal with increased access to larger areas. They also created a quiet zone around the zebras’ behind-the-scenes areas.

Tikiti Maji belonged to the Grevy’s zebra species, a long-legged and endangered species with fewer than 2,500 remaining in the wild, according to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute. Grevy’s zebras are the largest type of zebra, standing 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing between 770 and 950 pounds when fully grown. They have a lifespan of 12 to 13 years, as reported by the African Wildlife Foundation.

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