ZOO ATLANTA WELCOMES WEMBE THE PLAINS ZEBRA
New arrival will ultimately be joined by a companion on the Zoo’s African Savanna
ATLANTA – September 26, 2023 – Zoo Atlanta is thrilled to welcome a new set of stripes to its complement of African wildlife. Wembe, a 17-year-old plains zebra, arrived in Atlanta on September 26, 2023, from another Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited organization. Wembe will complete a routine quarantine period behind the scenes for about a month before being introduced to his new home in the Zoo’s African Savanna.
Wembe’s move to Zoo Atlanta was recommended by the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative program that works to ensure the genetic diversity and long-term sustainability of animal populations in human care in AZA organizations while also making recommendations for individual animal needs. As zebras are social animals, Zoo Atlanta expects to welcome a companion, also an SSP-recommended individual from another AZA zoo, later this fall.
Wembe and his future companion will have opportunities to meet other species frequently found in communal settings in the wild. Zoo Atlanta’s mixed-species African Savanna habitat is also home to reticulated giraffes Calvin and Lennard; bontebok Casper; and ostriches Purple and Orange. The process of introducing individual animals is a gradual one undertaken with care and close observation.
“Zoo Atlanta is very excited to welcome Wembe. When we think of the wildlife of the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, it’s hard to think of an animal more recognizable or iconic than the zebra,” said Jennifer Mickelberg, PhD, Vice President of Collections and Conservation. “The plains zebra is one of many species that are not yet classified as endangered, but tell us an important story now of the steps we can take to halt further population declines. These are magnificent animals we want to see forever in abundance in their native savannas.”
While zebras were once nearly ubiquitous in the wild in the southern and eastern regions of sub-Saharan Africa, many populations are now in decline. The plains zebra is classified as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Although they are hunted for skins and meat, a primary threat to zebras is habitat alteration due to farming. The increasing prevalence of agriculture in their native range results in competition with domestic livestock for grass resources, and farm fences interrupt zebras’ traditional migration patterns. The Zoo’s African Savanna complex underscores the interconnectedness of all life in this legendary landscape and emphasizes the everyday actions guests can take to have a positive impact on animal populations and their ecosystems.
Stay tuned for updates on Wembe as he prepares to acclimate to his new home, and plan a visit at zooatlanta.org.
About Zoo Atlanta
A proud accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the gold standard for animal care and welfare, Zoo Atlanta has a mission to save wildlife and their habitats through conservation, research, education, and engaging experiences. The Zoo is home to more than 1,000 animals representing more than 200 species from around the world, many of them endangered or critically endangered. Highlights include giant pandas, including Ya Lun and Xi Lun, the only giant panda twins in the U.S.; one of North America’s largest zoological populations of great apes; and a global center of excellence for the care and study of reptiles and amphibians. Recent transformations include the African Savanna, featuring new and expanded habitats for African elephants, giraffes, zebras, ostriches, bontebok, warthogs, meerkats and rhinos; Savanna Hall, a state-of-the-art special event destination in the newly restored historic former home of the Atlanta Cyclorama; and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Plaza. For more information, visit zooatlanta.org.