Her unusual color is due to her having "amelanosis". She is not an albino. She has striking gold stripes and blue eyes. In horses, there is a similar condition called "Lethal White Foal Syndrome" which is associated with the occurrence of other serious birth defects. Although this color variation occasionally occurs in wild herds, the animals would likely survive only a few days at best. This is probably because zebras use their stripes as camouflage to blend in with the rest of herd. This then allows the herd, to confuse predators with the changing patterns formed by the movement of a large group. Animals that stand out from the herd are easy targets for predators. In nature, having a color variation that makes you stand out is not a good thing!
There have been reports of at least two other "white" zebras in captivity. One in Germany about a hundred years ago and another at a zoo in Tokyo in the 1970's. Until Zoe was 11 years old she was the only living Golden zebra. There are about 24 other golden zebra now alive and living in a private park in South Africa. This is the same area that Oreo was originally captured and there is a strong likelihood that all of the golden herd are related.
Although Zoe may have health complications as she ages, for now we notice only poor night vision. Because we are concerned about other health problems she could have (for example, kidney problems), we feed her a low protein diet and monitor her for signs of sunburn or skin cancer. As with our other non-endangered animals, she will not be bred.
Oreo gave birth to Zoe’s sister Tootsie in 2000. The two of them got along remarkably well. Zoe’s mother Oreo passed away at the ripe old age of 28. We thought that Zoe and her younger sister Tootsie would live happily for many years. Sadly, Zoe’s sister, Tootsie, passed away in February 2015 after a short illness. This leaves one resident zebra at 3RR which puts Zoe in a stressful position- a herd aniaml without a herd. She seems unwilling to bond to the sanctuary's resident burro nor one of the goat girls. We are spending extra hours in the pasture keeping her company while we work on finding the best solution for her situation.