“Just pull your car up to where the zebras are, and I’ll let you in through the gate” said Judy in her thick Mississippi accent. Initially, I assumed I had misheard her, but I quickly disproved this thought after I spotted a herd of zebras roaming freely in the distance. My jaw dropped, and I turned to my friends Cam and Christina just in time to catch the “Surprise, Kristina!” look on their faces. My friends had surprised me with a weekend at B.Bryan Preserve, a preserve started by Judy and Dr. Frank Mello. It is located in Point Arena, California (a small town with a population of >500) and is dedicated to breeding and preserving the bloodlines of endangered African hoof stocks, including the now rare Grévy’s and Mountain zebras.

At first, it was hard for me to believe most zebra species are classified as being at high risk for extinction. But the math begins to make sense when I start thinking about the drought in Africa, the increase in other livestock that ultimately degrade the zebra’s food supply, and the emerging tick-borne disease covered in Science Daily a few weeks back.