Raising Stripes

When Georgina was standing up her head was at about hip height and she was growing quickly. She’d nuzzle her velvety nose into my legs when she was hungry and if it wasn’t quite feeding time yet she’d let out a delicate sigh that held within it a soft high-pitched murmur.

Last week I shared a video of zebra Georgina waiting for her milk feed, yesterday I found an old, dog-eared book of stories I’d noted down and I’d written a few about Georgina. As they made me smile I wanted to share them with you, enjoy!  

The first couple of days I spent with Georgie I was trying to win her trust and build a bond with her. Around a week or so before I arrived, the young zebra had followed rangers back to the staff camp and pretty much demanded she be rescued and cared for. As she was still young, she wouldn’t have survived alone in the wild and still needed to be drinking milk.

As Georgie had already been receiving care she had a handful of people that she trusted. This meant when I first arrived she would walk with me and act as if we were best friends but the second she clocked anyone who had been involved in her care she’d drop me like a hot potato and head straight in their direction. When this happened, I became some kind of weird zebra stalker. If Georgina saw someone who had helped look after her and they went into a room or office then she would just stand outside the door patiently awaiting their return and I had no choice but to awkwardly lurk with her. It was awful!! So, I quickly learnt that if I could get her a few steps away from the door she’d start following me again and we could continue our day.

One day it finally clicked and the young zebra realized she was stuck with me. From there, our relationship blossomed. When Georgina was standing up her head was at about hip height and she was growing quickly. She’d nuzzle her velvety nose into my legs when she was hungry and if it wasn’t quite feeding time yet she’d let out a delicate sigh that held within it a soft high-pitched murmur.

Georgina loved feeding time and as she was now my shadow she’d stand with me in the preparation room while I mixed the milk. However, sometimes the stripy fiend would get impatient and start pulling whatever she could get her teeth into down to the ground. The cloths, milk containers, plastic placemats… whatever she could reach, would be pulled onto the floor. If she was being naughty like this I’d end up moving her outside so I could mix the milk in peace. With that, she’d stand at the door, staring in at me – very unimpressed by my audacity. She might have had a very cute face but don’t be deceived, she could be very naughty when she wanted to be!!

After feeding time, Georgina would find a comfortable spot on the grass to lay down for a while. As she couldn’t be left alone, I’d sit by her side and read books while she slept. After a snooze, we’d head into the bush for a walk. Walks were my favourite part of the day and we’d spend spent a lot of time adventuring through the trees, walking along dirt paths forged by wildlife. Every now and then I’d break into a sprint to test Georgina’s speed and stamina, she’d have to be able to run when she goes back into the wild after all!

When we’d run, Georgina would push her front shoulder against me and kick back to defend herself against predators. Of course, once Georgina realized she could (very easily) outrun me and leave me for the predators she was off like a bullet leaving me in the dust. Fortunately, we were never chased by predators so Georgina never had the opportunity of actually leaving me for dead.  

A big bonus of caring for Georgina was that she was more than happy to spend the nights in the company of the anti-poaching horses. This meant I could sleep in the comfort of my bed and wake up every few hours to feed her. This was a welcome change from sleeping on the floor or on camping stretchers! Some mornings when I’d go to let Georgie out the fur on her back would be damp and distorted from the horses licking and grooming her at night. It was very sweet!!

Caring for Georgie was an amazing experience. She was sweet, gentle and mischievous. I spent all day, every day with her and we went on many adventures together. A few days before my 21st birthday rhino orphan Nkonzo was brought to Rhino Revolution which meant I had less time to spend with Georgie but fortunately the mounted APU volunteers were happy to help with Georgina’s care too. As we would take Nkonzo on bush walks, Georgie would often accompany us and it was incredible. With a rhino and zebra in tow, we’d go walking around the African bush.  

The Rhino Revolution team with Nkonzo and Georgina

Once Georgina was old enough she was introduced to another female zebra and when they were ready, the two of them were released together!

Tread lightly on this Earth,

Coexistwithmeg ♥
Megan Richards

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