Family gives zebra a home

Published 12:24 am Sunday, September 30, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Marty, Edwin and Ruth Ann Holt’s zebra, roams its pasture with the Holts’ two miniature ponies Saturday afternoon at their property. Marty is 8 months old.

NATCHEZ — It’s not uncommon to see equine animals in Kingston.

But for the last three months, the usual variants of the horse family have been joined by an African cousin in Edwin and Ruth Ann Holt’s pasture on Hutchins Landing Road, a zebra named Marty.

At eight months old, Marty has just been weaned from the bottle, and is just big enough to resemble a small, striped donkey. Before the weaning, the family had to rotate feedings, starting out with five a day, the earliest at daylight and the last one at dark.

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Marty’s personality, the Holts say, is sweet.

“We can go out in the pasture on a 4-wheeler and she will follow you just like a dog,” Edwin said.

Marty was bred in captivity, her mother imported from Africa and her father from a zoo that closed. The Holts purchased her from a breeder in Baton Rouge.

The leadup to the family’s adoption of Marty began several years ago, when they took a trip to Africa and went on a safari. The family’s oldest daughter, Ruthie Love, saw something there that made a lasting impression on her.

“When we were out on the safari, Ruthie Love saw a lion chasing a zebra, and she said, ‘I am going to get me one of those, so I can save it from the lions,’” Edwin said.

After doing some research, the Holts decided that when they got a zebra, they would get a female because the females are less aggressive. And while care for the animal is essentially the same as for a horse, Marty won’t grow as quickly and won’t be as easy to train as a horse.

But they will try to train her, Edwin said.

“Ruthie Love is convinced she’s going to ride Marty,” he said.

And there were other things to learn as well, not only for the owners but for Marty. Before the Holts got her, she had never seen a body of water before and one day ran across the pasture and got stranded in the middle of a pond, needing rescue from the grassy high point in the middle.

Even though she is far from her ancestral home, Marty — who was named after the zebra character in the popular Madagascar film franchise — isn’t lonely. She shares a pasture with two miniature ponies, Samson and Delilah.

“As soon as we got the zebra out here, (Samson and Delilah) came to her,” Ruthie Love said.

“You can let her out of the gate and she doesn’t go anywhere. She doesn’t want to leave her buddies.”

Edwin said he’ll eventually move Marty to the pasture near Holt Dental Center on U.S. 61 North, where he keeps several other horses.

“I have had several people tell me how they like to go and relax and watch the horses, and if they enjoy seeing the horses, I know they will enjoy seeing a zebra,” he said.