Meet the World’s Zebras
Zebras are a group of three species within the family equidae. This places them in the same family as the domesticated horse.
They share a similar iconic appearance with a body covered by white and black stripes. Their stripes make it difficult to determine the the shape of an individual zebra making it harder for a predator to target them. Each zebras stripe pattern is unique and can be used to tell them apart from other zebras.
A group of zebras is known as a herd or a dazzle. The term dazzle comes from the dazzling appearance of a group when they are running together.
Plains and mountain zebras maintain permanent herds which will roam together. Grevy’s zebras do not form permanent attachments. The male are solitary and the females cross through their range to breed.
These social animals form groups composed of between five and twenty individuals. During the migration groups may number in the hundreds.
Their herd structure helps to defend against predators. They can fend off lions, leopards, cheetahs and other threats by forming a semi-circle and then thrashing out at the predator.
When running they will reach speeds up to 55-60km/h (34-37mph).
On average zebras will live for 25 years.
Plains zebras are the most common and well known of the three zebra species. They are known for their annual migration and are also the species most commonly seen in zoos.
A baby zebra is known as a foal. Females separate from the herd and spend a short term making sure the foal can recognize their mother so it will follow her when they return to the herd.
A Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)
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Zebras are all herbivores which feed on grasses, bark, roots, stems, leaves and twigs. Their back teeth are used to crush and grind their food which grinds them down. As such the teeth must grow for their whole life.
Zebras are never more than 25-30km (15.5-18.6miles) from water.
All three of the zebra species are native to Africa. They differ in their habitat. Grevy’s zebras can be found in semi-arid grasslands. Mountain zebras are found on rocky, arid mountain slopes. Plains zebras are found both in grasslands and scrubby woodlands.
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World’s largest Zebra
The largest of the three zebra species is the Grevy’s zebra which stands 1.5m (5ft) tall and weighs 350-450kg (770-990lbs).
A Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra)
By Yathin S Krishnappa – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
Zebra Species – A full list of the 3 species
Mountain zebras have smaller stripes and these are closely spaced on their head and shoulders. On the haunches these are widely spaced.
The Plains zebra has wide stripes with wide spacing. Some of the subspecies have a second brown shadow stripe between the main stripes.
Grevy’s zebra have the narrowest stripes which sit the closest together.
A Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi)
By Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE – Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi), CC BY-SA 2.0
Species Profiles – A detailed fact file on some of the world’s zebra species
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National Geographic Kids. 2021. Zebra Facts For Kids | National Geographic Kids. [online] Available at: <https://www.natgeokids.com/au/discover/animals/general-animals/zebra-facts/> [Accessed 7 January 2021].
Dinerstein, E., 2021. Zebra | Size, Diet, & Facts. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/animal/zebra> [Accessed 7 January 2021].
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