Here at Hill Livery, we maintain a collection of wild equids including Grant’s and Chapman’s zebras, Onager (a species of wild ass) and Somali wild ass. The collection stems from a long-standing passion for wild equids and their conservation. We work in conjunction with the major zoo organisations of Europe to support a captive population as insurance against future wild extinctions.
There are three species of zebras living in the wild today. They are confined to Africa and comprise the Grevy’s zebra, Equus grevyi (the largest species, distinguished by its narrow stripes), the mountain zebra, Equus zebra (of which there are two subspecies and has a dewlap beneath its neck) and the plains zebra, Equus quagga (of which there are six subspecies, the southernmost of the six forms are recognised by their sparse striping and brown ‘shadow’ stripes).
All of the wild equids at Hill Livery have been born in captivity. Some of them are stallions which are being held on behalf of zoos throughout the UK as back-up breeding stock. Others have come here as they have not been compatible with the groups they had been living with. We effectively provide a dating service for some types of zebras in zoos by recommending most effective pairings to optimise breeding potential.
Years of experience with domestic horses has furnished us with expertise transferrable to the management of wild equids. As such we are able to advise zoos on nutrition, management of breeding animals, therapeutic treatments, behavioural enrichment and many other aspects of the maintenance of healthy and happy equids.
Besides zebras there is a further four species of wild equid throughout Africa and Asia. These include the ancestor of the domestic horse (the Przewalski’s wild horse) which became extinct in the wild during the 1960s, while that of the domestic donkey (the Nubian wild ass – a race of the African wild ass) is believed to be completely extinct. The last specimen of quagga (a race of plains zebra) died in Amsterdam Zoo in 1884. As a result of human activity the Somali wild ass and the Asiatic wild ass are classified as critically endangered while the mountain zebra and Grevy’s zebra populations are faring little better. It is purely as result of the prompt action of zoos that the complete disappearance of the Przewalski’s horse was prevented.
The zebras and other wild equids live peaceably in their purpose built compound which is integrated with the livery facilities. Resident horses and ponies (and their owners!) must quickly become accustomed to their striking neighbours! But there is no cause for alarm - initial cautiousness of new occupants quickly turns to curiosity and soon to indifference.
Zebras are dangerous wild animals and as such we have to adhere to strict national guidelines. This includes regular inspections by the local authority and experts in the field and being able to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of these animals’ needs in captivity. As a private collection, the zebras cannot be viewed by casual visitors.
Hill Livery is a member of the BIAZA, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and as such works alongside the most modern and progressive zoos in the country. As an active member of the committee of the Association of British Wild Animal keepers (ABWAK), we encourage networking and the exchange of husbandry information amongst keepers at ground level. In both these roles we strive to uphold best practice throughout the industry.
special thanks to SamWhitbread for assistance on this page.