A zebra in need
This past weekend, the girls, together with their oldest friends, Julian and Lola, went for an early morning drive. Down in the valley, they discovered a baby zebra that could not walk and was unable to follow the herd. Her mother had given up and wandered off so Erinn slowly climbed out the vehicle and made her way towards it, hoping to see what was wrong. To her own surprise she was able to get close enough to touch it. The zebra stood up but couldn’t move off as both her legs had injuries.
The radio call came through loud and clear. ‘Dad, dad,’ called Kai. ‘We have a baby Zebra that’s injured and we can’t just leave it. It’s going to die if we don’t try do something.’ Peter looked at me and I shrugged my shoulders. ‘Don’t look at me,’ I said, ‘I can’t help you, this isn’t my field of expertise but you can’t leave it if there’s a possibility we can do something.’ Peter didn’t stand a chance. ‘Can you catch it?’ he asked. ‘Yes, came a chorus of voices but we need your help.’
Peter went over to the workshop and loaded up a large net. He gathered all the medications that we keep for the horses and off we all went to see if we could catch the baby, administer the meds and hopefully see it run off with it’s mother. Sabina, (mom to Julian and Lola) and I sat in the car and watched Peter and the children attempt the impossible. To approach a wild baby zebra that is surrounded by the rest of the herd as well as a number of giraffe, some paranoid wildebeest and alert impala, seemed an unlikely thing. As it happened, they had no luck and we went home thinking that’s that then.
Children never give up!
We should have known better. Later that afternoon, the second radio call came in, this time loud and clear. ‘Dad has to get here right now, we are with the zebra and it is not near the herd.’ Pete jumped in the bakkie and raced off. When he got down to the plain, the zebra was lying very close to the road. They formulated a plan and slowly spread out using hand signals to indicate their intentions to each other. Erinn slowly approached the baby lying down in thick bush, Pete and Julian held the net, Lola blocked the escape route and Kai helped herd it when it ran, taking pictures at the same time to document the event.
Caught, treated, released
Safely trapped in the net, Erinn quickly took off her top to cover the zebra’s eyes. Once the baby couldn’t see, she relaxed and Peter was able to inject her with a painkiller and antibiotics. They cleaned and treated the wounds on her legs, released her from the net and Peter and Julian stood as the girls slowly walked her towards the herd. Everyone watched as the stallion sniffed and checked her out before the mother accepted her back and as the sun was going down, the baby drank for a long time and then slowly wandered off alongside her mom.
4 days later
Alive and well if not quite kicking, the zebra looks stronger and is walking and keeping up with the herd. It is the first time we have been able to treat an animal out in the veld and we feel exhilarated that it went off successfully.