Baby animals are probably more adorable than human babies. Compared to humans, they are able to do so much more from the day they are born. Baby giraffes can stand minutes after birth and baby sea turtles can find their way to the ocean seconds after being hatched. Meanwhile, human babies can barely support their own heads for months. However, one thing we all have in common as babies is clumsiness. Taking your first few steps don’t come without their falls. But babies learn to pick themselves up and try again until they can walk around helpless. This is what one newborn zebra did minutes after his birth. Yet, unknowingly. he was heading in the wrong direction.
There is nothing cuter than a baby animal, whether you are furry, four-legged-crazy or not. Unlike human babies who could barely last seconds on their own, some animal babies can do all sorts within moments of being born, like giraffes who can stand up to 6-foot tall within 30 minutes.
One baby zebra at Valencia Bioparc in Spain managed to stand up seconds after his mom gave birth, only to dangerously stumble to the water! His mother’s reaction was not expected…
Valencia Bioparc is a 25-acre zoo in sunny Spain where the animals are as happy as those in the computer-animated film Madagascar. The zoo follows the concept of Zooimersion.
Rather than having animals behind railings or inside cages like in many other zoos around the world, this zoo uses rivers, streams, ponds, and rocks to separate from animals from the visitors. It takes on the idea that visitors are actually immersing themselves inside the animal’s natural habitat.
Meanwhile, in the Valencia Bioparc, many animals co-exist in the same habitats. This may sound dangerous, but predatory species are integrated into areas just as easy to see as other animals.
However, they are separated from other species, and humans, by barriers that visitors would not even notice. The park is located close to the Túria river, where there is a stunning botanical garden. In one area, the zebras share space with rhinos and flamingoes, but one zebra was about to give birth…
In the zoo world there is no Tinder or Match.com, but rather the animal’s mates are selected for them.
La Niña arrived at the Bioparc in 2007 from Halle Zoo in Germany, while her mate, Zambe, was delivered from the Safari de Peaugres in nearby France in 2012. Some would say the two hit it off right away and after a long 12-13 months, La Nina was ready to give birth. Perhaps, their baby took his fathers genes, as he was certainly going to be adventurous.
The mother due to give birth was named La Niña, which has the meaning The Girl in Spanish. Unlike in the wild, La Niña had the advantage of being monitored during her pregnancy, and the birth was closely looked over so that if anything went wrong, staff were on hand.
And that is exactly what happened. Without epidural or medical assistance, this zebra had to do it all alone. Before the baby was out, she fell from exhaustion…
Earning Those Stripes
If nine months feels like enough to us, imagine carrying a baby zebra inside of you for an entire year. Female zebras remain pregnant for around 12-13 months before she separates from her family and herd to hide from predators for the birth.
It’s almost like the mom really does earn her stripes! Although the skull of a newborn zebra is less than half of its mothers, their legs are 95% the length of hers, possibly giving an explanation for what was to happen.
Just like human moms, there is nothing better than having someone by your side during labor. Someone to help you breathe, someone to tell you “you can do this!” or just someone to make you feel safe.
La Niña was lucky enough to have just that. By her side was the father of the baby, Zambe, offering support to the mother-of-his-child in the best way he could. He was seen hovering by her side and communicating with her.
Walking Within Minutes
Collapsed onto her side, La Niña continued to push despite her exhaustion. Alas, the baby came out who turned out to be a boy, and he was certainly ready for action.
Otherwise known as foals, it did not take long for the baby zebra to attempt to get up and start walking. This was very normal as most foals can stand within 10 to 20 minutes of birth. Within an hour they can even run! However, this had dangerous consequences…
I Need A Bath
During the entire labor, the staff at the Bioparc were filming the miraculous event. They watched as the newborn came out of its mother and lay on the sand for a few moments before gradually stumbling to his feet.
His mother finally managed to pick herself up and began to continually lick him all over, cleaning him from the residue. Zebras tend to stand up and walk quickly as an evolutionary tactic to get milk. However, this young boy wanted something other than that.
Fleeing For Water
Waiting to be cleaned, he decided his mother’s licking was taking too long. He spotted the watering hole nearby, and as soon as his mother cut off his umbilical cord, he went stumbling towards the water.
Although his legs were still a little wobbly and he paused for a few moments during his approach, his mom was still too tired to chase after him. Staff looked on in anticipation, unsure what was about to happen.
Looking On In Horror
While newborn foals are able to walk, they were not made to swim. La Niña, the new mother, panicked! Through the video, the staff watched on as the mom began making noises in desperation.
She had spent a year pregnant and hours in labor, and her new baby was about to walk into the water, potentially ending his 30-second life. Exhausted, she was unable to move and had no choice but to just look on in horror.
Just like the rest of the animal kingdom, zebra mothers are protective. After all, she will be the primary caregiver to the offspring for some time.
During the first two days, the mother will keep the baby by her side, even limiting their contact with other zebras so that he can learn to identify her sight, smell, and sound. Therefore, not only was La Niña worried about her baby heading for the water, but she was also afraid of the separation.
Desperate for a bath, this foal went straight into the water, not realizing the dangers. In absolute distress, this zebra mother had no idea what she should do. Luckily, for this mother, she was not in the wild and had the advantage of human help.
Staff from Valencia Bioparc stepped in and headed towards the zebra and her baby, who appeared to now be drowning. Jumping into the water, these two zookeepers were brave, and it wasn’t just because the protective mom was seeing red.
As Heavy As 210 Bananas
You may be asking yourself how these zookeepers are ‘brave’ given that the foal looks so small. Well, you would be mistaken. Newborn foals are born weighing an astonishing 70 pounds (almost 32 kg), the same weight as a 10-year-old boy or even 210 bananas!
They are pretty much fully developed, and this one was no different. As staff filmed the heroic act, the footage was shared on the Bioparc’s YouTube channel. People watched on as the baby zebra realized his bath was not all it seemed…
Zebra Survival Guide
One of the first things to know as a zookeeper, the beginner’s guide to saving baby animals if you will, is to make sure that the mom will not attack you.
Therefore, the zookeepers knew that if the mom began to approach them, they would have to do something quickly to keep her back. They needed to make sure that the mom would keep her distance in order to give them enough time to get the baby out. Did they manage it?
Catching The Baby
It wasn’t long until the baby zebra learned that his bath was not as relaxing as he had hoped and he struggled to keep his head above the water.
The men approached and tried to catch him. Not only did they need to rescue the distressed and heavy zebra, but they also had to keep an eye on the protective mom who could pounce any second. Trecking through the water they grab the baby, and the mom’s reaction is amazing!
La Niña watched the events unfolding before her and was distraught when she saw these two humans capturing her newborn baby.
Using all her strength and maternal instincts, she found the courage and strength to get up and walk towards the water to save her baby. The mom is still quite dazed and confused after having just given birth and approaches the men in anger. That is until one of the zookeepers makes another bold move.
Carrying the 70-pound baby as fast as they can to the shore, the zookeepers notice that the mom was getting nearer and nearer.
One of the zookeepers thought back to his training and made the brave move of splashing water at the mom as a way of letting her know to stay back. The mom is left stunned but then takes a moment to realize what these men are actually trying to do. Her next move was even more amazing.
Within a matter of seconds, the men managed to carry the baby out of the water and carefully placed him onto the sand.
Knowing their place, they knew all too well that they had to quickly back up in order to let the mom and son reunite. They may have been in a zoo, but in this one, they were predominantly in the animals home. Following along, the mom dashed out of the water and headed towards her child.
Slowly, while watching the two men walk away, she approached her newborn baby to check that he was alright.
Within a matter of seconds, this mom had given birth, cut her umbilical cord, and watched as her newborn baby slowly walked into a deathtrap. She then had to witness two humans tread through the water and catch him, then drag him away from her. All this zebra wanted to do now was bond with her son like she was supposed to.
A Safe Home
Although she doesn’t know it, La Niña is very lucky. In the wild, her baby foal would not have stood a chance at survival after walking head first into the water minutes after learning to walk.
In the zoo, the animals do not have to worry about the survival of the fittest tactics as whatever harmful things or happenings they may encounter, the staff will do their very best to ensure the animal’s welfare is safe.
Having An Audience
The zebras and two zookeepers were not the only ones witnessing the ordeal at the Valencia Bioparc.
There was actually quite a big crowd of people watching as the birth and dangerous events unfolded. Immediately, they burst into an applaud when the heroes dragged the baby zebra to shore. They cheered them on too and watched as La Niña continued to bathe her baby. What they got to witness next was even more outstanding.
After the traumatic event, everyone around was then able to witness the mom bathe her newborn how she was supposed to and feed him her milk. It was a sight never to be forgotten, and the zebras continued to happily play together.
The mom and baby, who is still yet to be named, are doing just fine and he is settling into life at the Bioparc. The baby feeds well and regularly. He certainly learned quickly that babies cannot swim!