DALLAS - A zebra died Saturday at the Dallas Zoo after it became startled, ran into a wall and broke its neck.
The death delays plans to field a new herd of five zebras at the new Giants of the Savanna habitat, according to Lynn W. Kramer, zoo deputy director.
The 1½-year-old male Grant's Zebra arrived at the zoo last week and was confined to a pen outside public areas to allow it to become accustomed to its new surroundings. Plans called for it to join another zebra already released to the multi-acre grassland enclosure.
"On Saturday morning, something, we don't know what, startled the zebra and it broke its neck running into a wall of the holding area," Kramer said.
Zebras' temperament makes them particularly vulnerable to such injuries, he said. No zoo employees were injured in the incident.
"It's unfortunate, but it's always tricky when you're dealing with such a high-strung animal," he said.
Another zebra — a male Hartman Mountain Zebra — died in a similar incident at the Dallas Zoo several months ago, he said. The zoo also found that two other new zebras were in such poor health that they were returned to the private facility where they had been acquired.
Zoo officials had hoped to add another three zebras to the savanna exhibit by mid-summer. The zoo still has zebras in its Wilds of Africa exhibit.
While plans still call for a new herd, Kramer said, "I'm not in a rush to bring them in right now."