The story of Suzie the orphaned zebra

Posted by Anita Froneman on 28 September 2020

Not much can surprise those living in the African countryside. However, coming across a female zebra giving birth while stuck in a fence must be rather unnerving.

Rene Baard and her family, owners of the Goanikontes Oasis lodge in Namibia had to act fast when they came upon the harrowing scene. Here is the magnificent story of how Suzie the zebra was born.

‘We were doing our normal routine checks on our cattle when we came across a zebra stuck in a fence. Upon closer inspection, we noticed that she was already giving birth!’ Baard said.

‘We jumped in and tried our best to save the mother and baby. We got the foal out, but it did not breathe at all. By this time we had cut the mother loose, but unfortunately she was too weak and could not stand up.

‘I started with mouth and CPR compressions on the foal. We got her breathing and within a few minutes she was strong and standing firmly. We gave the mother water, but unfortunately she did not make it. Luckily we milked the mother for colostrums milk which got the foal to survive.

‘The next morning I drove to Windhoek and bought formula milk for horse and donkey foals. We started feeding her this and she was doing OK. She had a small setback thereafter and received a drip to keep her hydrated,’ Baard added.

Baard applied for and received a government permit to keep the foal on the farm, as it was decided that would give her the best chance of survival.

‘We never wanted her for a pet. We have space and other animals there, as well as animal caretakers that can feed her and give her milk for the coming months as needed. We currently have a private vet going out every second week to take care of all our animals there, like our ponies, goats, pigs, chickens and emu’s,’ said Baard.

Baard went on the explain that zebra foals drink from their mothers for about one year and nine months in the wild, so Suzie will have to be hand-fed until then. No one except Baard and a few specific caretakers are allowed to touch Suzie, and a large camp is being built that will become her home.

‘At the moment, she is like a naughty child and wants to chew everything. She eats our plants and pulls cutlery from the tables. But when it’s feeding time, she knows of nothing except that bottle.’

‘She is beautiful, but she will always be a wild animal and we have rules and regulations at the lodge for her protection,’ Baard concluded.

Take a look at Suzie’s antics at the lodge:

Suzie inspects the delectable cakes at the restaurant.

She is fond of lounging around on the couch under the tree.

Images: Goanikontes Oasis

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