As she prepares to feed the zebras on the 3-acre African Journey savannah, zoo keeper Lisa Gehlhausen gathers her equipment. Wheelbarrow: check. Zebra treats: check. Stick to fend off ostrich: check. Treats for ostrich: check. Wait a minute – are we feeding the ostrich or the zebras?
“You really can’t feed one without the other,” she says. “The ostrich follow us everywhere.”
Indeed, Kimmy and Penny, the zoo’s two female ostriches, are ever-present as Gehlhausen tosses chunks of carrot and sweet potato to the zebras. “We use these treats to encourage the zebras to go into the barn at night,” she explains. “That helps reduce wear and tear on the pasture.” The zebras also eat hay and grain, and nibble on real grass on the pasture.
A bucket of cracked corn distracts the ostriches while Gehlhausen explains how she tells the zoo’s three female zebras apart. “Each zebra has different markings,” she says. “The trick is to look at the things that aren’t stripes.” Telodi, for example, has one white spot on the left side of her lower neck, while Jasiri has two white spots in the center of her neck, as if she is wearing a necklace. Okolo has a black spot on her left shoulder.
As herd animals, Telodi, Jasiri, and Okolo are never far from each other. And if there’s food involved, the ostriches are guaranteed to be in the vicinity.
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