Zoe the Golden Zebra (White)
Zoe is one of the rarest zebras in existence. She is what is called a Golden Zebra, although some refer to her as a “white” zebra. Zoe is the only Golden Zebra known to be in captivity at this time. Zoe was born on the Island of Molokai, Hawaii in 1998 and shortly after her and her mother, Oreo, were moved to the Three Ring Ranch, which is an animal sanctuary on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Sometimes called a "White Zebra"
Zoe - Look at those beautiful blue eyes!
Many people refer to Zoe as an albino, but Zoe actually is not an albino zebra. She has a condition called amelanosis. Amelanism, or amelanosis, is a pigmentation abnormality characterized by the lack of color pigments called melanins. Albinism is the complete absence of color pigments or melanins. Zoe’s body is white and her stripes are a beautiful golden beige color. She also has beautiful bright blue eyes!
As of now, the only health problems they are aware of is the fact that she has poor night vision. As she ages she may incur some complications due to the amelanism such has kidney problems. As a precaution she is fed a low protein diet and is monitored closely for skin cancer, which is more common among animals with amelanism. Because of her condition, Zoe will not be bred.
Amelanism can be a very dangerous condition to have if you are a zebra on the plains. Zebra’s stripes are used as camouflage and to confuse their predators. The main predator of the zebra is the lion. Lions are known for being color-blind. Since zebras run close together in herds, all the lion sees is a mass of lines moving up and down and it makes it harder for the lion to pick out one individual. However, if there is one individual in the herd that does not blend in, the lion can easily pick them out from the rest of the herd. A zebra with amelanism would probably only last a few days in the wild.
This is the reason that Zoe was taken to the Three Ring Ranch. She would not have lived long in the wild. The Three Ring Ranch is a private sanctuary located on five acres on the Big Island. It was founded in 1998 and is Hawaii’s only fully accredited, USDA licensed, exotic animal sanctuary. In 2000, they became a non-profit organization and can boast that 100% of every donation goes toward animal care and education. The sanctuary is run entirely by a volunteer staff and no one makes a salary.
Not long ago, Zoe’s mother, Oreo, gave birth to a new baby, Tootsie. Zoe didn't know what to think about all this as Oreo was very protective of little Tootsie for a while and would not let Zoe come around. She would even bite and kick at her. One reason for this could be that zebras stripes are also used as an identification tool.
Some zoologist believe that when a female zebra gives birth, she will try to prevent the foal from seeing other zebras. Thus the foal learns the pattern of it’s mother’s stripes and is able to find her just by sight. Zoe now spends her nights separated from Oreo and Tootsie by a wire fence. Since zebras are herd animals it is very important that they maintain visual contact with each other in order to remain calm. It only took about a week for mom to settle down and now Zoe and Tootsie are happy playing together.
There have only been reports of two other Golden Zebra’s in captivity. The first was in Germany approximately 100 years ago! The second was in a zoo in Tokyo in the 1970’s. Zoe is the only Golden Zebra known to exist in captivity today.