5 min read

Scared Baby Zebra Snuggles Up To Human Friends On Way To Vet

He was found all alone, but he feels SO much safer thanks to them.

This little zebra is now named Shaq β€” but he almost didn't survive. 

orphaned baby zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

Shaq was just 3 weeks old when he was spotted in the wild in South Africa by people who realized that there was something seriously wrong with him. They contacted The Rhino Orphanage, a sanctuary and rehabilitation center for orphaned rhinos and occasionally other kinds of animals, to get the little guy some help.

rescued baby zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

The people at the orphanage welcomed the little guy with open arms. 

Rescued orphaned zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage
orphaned baby zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

Shaq had a badly broken leg β€” he never would have survived out there all on his own β€” so rescuers wrapped it up in a cast. And they did everything they could to make him feel comfortable, including giving him a lot of bottle feedings.

"He weighs 27 kg [59 lb] and drinks 250 ml [8.4 oz] of milk every two hours," Jamie Traynor, who works at the orphanage, wrote. "To ensure that he has adequate exercise and outdoor stimulation a carer is always with him to help support his broken leg. It's hard not to instantly fall in love with his adorable face, sweet personality and his super soft mane and coat!"

Orphaned baby rhino at orphanage
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

But Shaq needed special surgery if he was ever going to be able to walk well enough again to join a new herd in a wildlife reserve, which is the goal.

baby zebra's broken leg xray
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

So Traynor and Shaq's other guardian angels piled into a truck and took him to the vet to get the surgery he needed. 

Shaq snuggled up with his carers in the back all the way to the procedure.

Baby zebra on the way to the vet
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage
Baby zebra on the way to the vet
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

"Orphaned baby zebra, Shaq, had a big day on Thursday traveling to Bela Bela vet clinic for surgery on his leg," Traynor wrote. "Dr. Marius du Toit and his team performed the operation to realign the bones and place pins to secure his leg."

Baby zebra's broken leg with pins xray
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

And Shaq seemed to know that he was in good hands and that everyone was there to help him β€” his rescuers held him even as he was on the operating table. In six weeks, the doctors will be able to take the pins out and his leg will be a whole lot stronger. 

Baby zebra getting surgery on broken leg
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

"Shaq has been doing well since the surgery!" Traynor told The Dodo. "He's a lot more comfortable now because his cast is smaller, so he can get up and lie down without us helping him ... We're extremely happy with his progress."

Rescued orphaned zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage

And as he's healing, Shaq has the good fortune to be meeting a lot of new friends. 

Rescued zebra with goat
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage
Rescued zebra with cat
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage
Rescued rhino and zebra
Jamie Traynor/The Rhino Orphanage
To help contribute to the top-notch care orphaned animals like Shaq get at The Rhino Orphanage, you can make a donation.