The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo just got a little bit busier – and a whole lot cuter – with the arrival of Epona, a foal born May 19 to Gracie, our mixed-breed pony mare.
At just over a week old, Epona is already running, leaping and exploring the Don & Linda Carter Barn. Just like her famous Zoo friend Kipenzi, Epona’s been on her feet since shortly after birth. Whether they’re born in the wild or born in a barn, baby ponies – and baby giraffes – must be up and ready to move as soon as possible.
For a few minutes every morning and afternoon, the barn is closed so Epona can follow her mother out of the stall and onto the scale. Daily weigh-ins are a very important part of tracking a zooborn’s progress.
“We are all thrilled to watch Epona grow, mentally and physically. She gained 10 pounds in her first week, and continues to become more confident and curious,” said Melissa Medlen, Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo supervisor.
Gracie is a patient and relaxed mother who lets zookeepers help take care of her little girl. Known for her gentle, sweet nature, Gracie navigated the entire pregnancy, birthing, nursing and bonding process like a champ. Like all good moms, she’s not hesitant to provide Epona with a little parental guidance and discipline when necessary.
Named for the Celtic goddess of horses, Epona is a spirited and curious filly (female baby horse) who loves being outside in the exercise paddock. Once there, she’s usually kicking up her heels, racing around – sometimes under her mother –and executing graceful side passes worthy of a trained show horse. These big bursts of energy are usually followed by a nursing session, and a long nap.
“Epona and Gracie will continue to be mostly behind the scenes for a while,” Medlen said. “It’s important for both mom and baby to have bonding time and privacy while Epona is nursing and exploring her new environment.”
Weather permitting, guests may be able to glimpse mama and baby out in the paddock, located next door to the Simmons Family Pony Trek.
HORSE SENSE: A Pony-Sized Q&A
Is a pony a baby horse?
Ponies are a breed of horse. A baby horse – or a baby pony – is called a foal.
What’s the difference between a filly and a colt?
A filly is a female foal. A colt is a male foal.
What kind of pony is Epona?
All of the Children’s Zoo ponies are mixed-breeds, except for Cleo, who is a registered Haflinger.
What’s a “hand?”
A “hand” is a special measurement for horses and ponies. Horses are measured from the ground to the top of their “withers,” or shoulders. One hand equals four inches. Of our adult ponies, Cleo is the tallest at 14.1 hands, and Gracie is the shortest, at 10.1 hands.
A Children’s Zoo Kid Challenge!
How many hands tall are you? Remember, one hand equals four inches.