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Imara: Slow and steady wins the race

During the last Keeper Stories Blog from the Hoofstock Team in February, we introduced Imara, the Zoo’s new female plains zebra.  She has come a long way since clearing her standard 30-day quarantine period. She is a much more cautious animal when compared to the Zoo’s male zebra, Wembe, so she has moved through the introduction process at her own pace, which has been much slower. She was first introduced to her behind-the-scenes corral space, as well as the stalls and corrals where Wembe lives, while Wembe was out on habitat. Once she was comfortable in all of these new spaces, we physically introduced her to Wembe, where they shared the same area for the first time, under the close watch of the care team. The introductions with Wembe went well. At first, he was more interested in the hay on her side of the barn, which was from the exact same bale as his hay, then after he had eaten his fill, he turned his attention to her.  At first, she walked away from him when he approached to investigate her, but within a short time, they had established their boundaries with each other and have been able to cohabit together ever since.

Next came the time to introduce her to the African Savanna mixed species habitat. First with only Wembe and then with the other habitat residents, the giraffes and ostriches.  Imara once again took the very cautious approach to the new habitat.  After five days of introduction time, where she and Wembe could come and go from the barn to the habitat, she decided the habitat was actually quite nice. Next, we introduced the ostriches to her and Wembe, which went quite smoothly. We are currently at the point of introducing her to giraffes, and as of the time of writing this, she has decided that giraffes are very big and very scary. So she quickly retreats to her behind the scenes corral and barn. We will continue the introduction process at her pace by slowly allowing them all to spend time together in the habitat. Every animal is their own individual, and they have to be allowed to progress through things at their own pace and comfort level. It is very important that we do not rush these introductions, as that can be very stressful and dangerous for all animals involved. Slow and steady wins the race. We know that with time she will figure out that the giraffes, as well as ostriches are good neighbors to have.

Kate R.
Lead Keeper, Hoofstock

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