An adorable baby zebra and 11 antelope calves have been born at Werribee Open Range Zoo

An adorable baby zebra and 11 antelope calves have been born at Werribee Open Range Zoo

Zebra foal, Zola, between mother Zaide's legs

Who's keen for a trip to the zoo?

It’s that time of the year: adorable baby animals have been birthed 30 minutes from Geelong at Werribee Open Range Zoo – just in time for anyone needing a baby animal fix.

Located within the Werribee Park Precinct, a baby zebra and 11 antelope calves have joined the amazing array of animals living on 225 hectares of wide, open Savannah.

The dazzle of Zebra has welcomed the arrival of a striped bundle of joy, Zola who is taking her first days in striped stride. Filly, Zola – meaning quiet or tranquil in Zulu – was born last week to mum, Zaide, and joins siblings, Mudhe and Zari, on the Zoo’s lower savannah.

Savannah keeper Lauren Irving said Zola is making herself at home alongside the 13 other African species that share her habitat, including Southern white rhino, Giraffe and Ostriches.

“Zola is not straying far from mum Zaide’s side at the moment,” said Ms Irving. “If she’s anything like her mother, she will grow up to be an incredibly confident and assertive zebra.”

Zebras are classified as near-threatened in the wild, with their numbers declining due to habitat destruction, poaching and competition with agriculture. The zebras at Werribee Open Range Zoo form part of a regional breeding program to maintain an insurance population in the fight against extinction – and what’s not to love about that?

Alongside baby Zola, keepers have also welcomed an astonishing eleven antelope calves during the past two months, including five Scimitar-horned oryx and six Lowland nyala. The birth of the oryx babies, in particular, is a monumental achievement in the conservation of the species. These little guys are considered extinct in the wild.

“These antelope calves were born as part of a regional breeding program here at Werribee Open Range Zoo,” said Mr. Venables. “The Scimitar-horned oryx are considered to be extinct in the wild, so these babies are extremely precious and will contribute to the survival of their species.”

Both species help Zoo visitors learn about the threats many African animals face in the wild and what they can do to help fight wildlife extinction. The major threats to the wild population of Lowland nyala are poaching and habitat destruction.

These little guys can be seen running amok, playing with their family members, suckling from their patient mothers and plonking down amongst the grassy plains for a well-earned nap – making it a perfect day out for the kids!

Werribee Open Range Zoo re-opened to visitors in October under the latest changing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions by the Victorian Government. Daily visitor numbers are capped and all tickets must be pre-purchased online. For more information, visit the website.