Helping save an endangered species.

Just how far the keepers go to care for the Zebras at the Zoo

They are beautiful animals that tend to draw a crowd.
 
"So this one here is Wimbi."
 
Striped creatures Kim Downey knows on a first name basis.  It's her job to feed them and clean up after them, but then that's what you expect a zoo keeper to do.
 
"So these are Grevy's zebras, there's three different species of zebras.  The Grevy's are the largest of them," Downey explains.
 
What most of the people gathering to take pictures don't realize is just how far keepers at the Saint Louis Zoo go to help these animals.  For example, earlier this year Downey and Katie Pilgrim-Kloppe traveled to Kenya for the Great Grevy's Rally.
 
"So we see these up close everyday, but to see them for the first time in the wild was just kind of breathtaking," Downey says.
 
"Just watching them was something I'll never forget," adds Pilgrim-Kloppe.
 
It was a field conservation project to get an idea about the population of this endangered species.
 
"We were trying to get their right hip pattern and they're going to use the photographs that we took to put them into a database so we can identify each individual," Pilgrim-Kloppe goes on to say.
 
With the help of citizen scientists they went out and not only counted the zebras, but captured them on camera.  However, simply seeing them in their natural habitat, their limited resources, was an invaluable education they've already passed on to their peers.
 
"For zoo keepers to travel abroad and study animals they work with in the wild is really limited experience and so everybody was really excited even keepers that work with cheetahs, rhinos, zebras everybody got a little piece of what it looked like." 
 
So it might not catch your attention like one of the many incredible animals, but the work the Saint Louis Zoo does through it's WildCare Institute might be the most important work they do and this unforgettable trip is just a tiny part of that.
 
 
 
 


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