KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Zoo Knoxville has a happy surprise for the holidays.

An endangered mountain zebra was born recently at the zoo.

“This birth is a goal we have been working and planning toward for several years,” curator Petty Grieve said.  “It is our job to help ensure the survival of this species and it is exciting to see the impact our herd will have for the future.” 

The foal was born to parents Lydia and Die Toekoms, and is the first mountain zebra to be born in Knoxville.  The baby is nursing and healthy.  The foal’s gender is yet to be determined as zoo staff are giving Lydia and the baby time to bond.   

Zoo Knoxville is one of only 18 zoos in the country who work with this species as part of the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra Species Survival Plan, a collaboration of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to save them from extinction. 

Native to southwestern Africa, mountain zebras are vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss due to farming and livestock production.  It is estimated that only 8,300 remain in the wild.