Name the baby zebra

Wanda English Burnett

Have you ever been up-close and personal with a baby zebra? Now is your chance to do so as a local woman invites anyone to see her newest baby - a grant (type of zebra) on her farm near Cross Plains.
The baby zebra was a month old on Sunday, May 15 and still doesn’t have a name. Michelle Leons, owner of the zebra, has decided to offer school children from grades K-12 the opportunity of naming him.

All you have to do is put the name you have chosen on a piece of paper and mail it to: PO Box 158 Zebra, Versailles, IN 47042 or drop it off at the newspaper office at 115 S. Washington Street, Versailles.

Leons is also offering the unique opportunity for people to see the zebra at her farm located at 1076 E County Road 900 S (turn west at Otter’s Grocery in Cross Plains off SR 129). You can drop off the name entries there as well.

Times open to see the baby zebra are May 18, 19 and 20 from 4-6 p.m. and Sunday, May 22 from noon until 6 p.m.

The deadline for entering the naming contest is May 24. The winner or winners (there could be two) will be notified and have their picture taken for the local newspaper.

Leons is no stranger to raising animals. She has 13 horses on her property now. “I started riding when I was two or three years old,” she told the Osgood Journal. She bought her first horse with her own money when she was just 17.

Why buy a zebra? Leons said she has always wanted some type of wild exotic animal. She really wanted an elephant, but considering the feed they might take, decided against that move. She had never really thought about a zebra.

That was five weeks ago. She began looking at zebras on the Internet, and found a ranch in Louisiana. She saw the exquisite zebra - whose sister has already been signed onto Paramount Pictures to do a story about a guy who won the lottery and bought a zebra, according to Leons. She said when she saw the zebra, she knew she had to have him.

Leons plans to breed her newest acquisition with her horses to create zorses. They are not new, but new to her farm. She said compared to money she has paid for good stud horses, the zebra was cheap.
She researched the USDA licensing regulations and found she could purchase him with no special license. “I would only a need breeders license if I was breeding him with a zebra,” she noted. But, because she has plans to only breed him with horses, she’s okay.

Leons also did a lot of research to find out what the best feed would be for her new baby. She has him on a milk mixture of 22% protein.

She has broke several horses to ride in her lifetime and knows the technique of calming the zebra when he gets a little “jumpy”. He now will nuzzle her and with every new person or animal he encounters, he becomes more adapted to his new surroundings.

“I just thought it would be good if kids could come and see him and touch him,” Leons noted. She said, “After all, it’s not everyday you get a see a zebra close-up.” While some might think his fur is coarse like a horse, it’s really soft.

About the naming contest, Leons said, “I was having a hard time coming up with a name and decided to open it up to school-age kids.”

While Leons’s children are grown, she still has kids in the house, she’s a foster mom to three right now.

Leons, who is a certified wildlife rehabilitator, says she’s looking forward to this new adventure and invites the community to stop in from time to time and watch the zebra as he grows up.

The newest baby on the farm still needs a name. Pictured above is a baby zebra who is now living on a Cross Plains farm. He was just getting to know two of the 13 horses on the property that is now his home. Read the story to find out how you can be part of naming him.