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The Zebra

Zebras, horses and wild asses are all equids, long-lived animals that move quickly for their large size and have teeth built for grinding and cropping grass. Zebras have horselike bodies, but their manes are made of short, erect hair, their tails are tufted at the tip and their coats are striped.

About The Zebra

Parks Where Found

Physical Characteristic

  • The Burchell's zebra is built like a stocky pony.
  • Its coat pattern can vary greatly in number and width of stripes.
  • The stripes are a form of disruptive coloration which breaks up the outline of the body. At dawn or in the evening, when their predators are most active, zebras look indistinct and may confuse predators by distorting distance.
  • Their shiny coats dissipate over 70% of incoming heat.

Natural Environment

Burchell's zebras inhabit savannas, from treeless grasslands to open woodlands; they sometimes occur in tens of thousands in migratory herds on the Serengeti plains.Grevy zebras are now mainly restricted to parts of northern Kenya.


The Burchell's zebra’s social system is based on a harem of females led by a stallion. Stallions establish their harems by abducting fillies who have come into their first estrus. These fillies advertise their condition with a peculiar stance: straddled legs with raised tail and lowered head.

All the stallions in the area will fight for a filly in this condition, as she will permanently stay with whichever stallion succeeds in mating with her. The newest female in a harem assumes lowest social status, and is often received with hostility by the other females. Once a female has bonded to a stallion, she will no longer advertise herself when in estrus.


The zebra, though water dependent, is a very adaptable grazer, able to eat both short young shoots and long flowering grasses.

Predators and Threats

  • Lions
  • Hyenas
  • Hunting Dogs
  • Leopards

When a family group is attacked, the members form a semicircle, face the predator and watch it, ready to bite or strike should the attack continue. If one of the family is injured the rest will often encircle it to protect it from further attack.

Facts for Fun

  • Romans called Grevy's zebras 'hippotigris' and trained them to pull two-wheeled carts for exhibition in circuses.
  • At first glance zebras in a herd might all look alike, but their stripe patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints are in man. Scientists can identify individual zebras by comparing patterns, stripe widths, color and scars





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