Zebra in the grasslands of the Serengeti in ~ dawn in Tanzania, east Africa.(Image credit: Mogens Trolle | Shutterstock)
Zebras are single-hoofed animals that are indigenous to Africa. Zebras are an extremely closely regarded horses and donkeys; in fact, they room in the same genus, Equus. The most prominent function of zebras is the bold fads on their coats. 

Zebras are typically thought to have white coats v black or brown stripes, follow to the mountain Diego Zoo, since the stripes end at their bellies and the inner side of the legs, which space white. However, zebras have actually black skin under your white coats! 

Each types of zebra has a different general sample of stripes. The Grevy"s zebra has an extremely thin stripes. The mountain zebra has vertical stripes top top its neck and also torso, however horizontal stripes top top its haunches. Part subspecies of plains zebras have brownish "shadow" stripes in between the black stripes, follow to the san Diego Zoo.

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It is believed that the zebra"s stripes occupational like camouflage, according to the National Geographic. Once zebras stand together, the is harder because that predators to recognize how countless zebras are in the group. The stripes may also make the zebra appear unattractive to smaller predators, such as bloodsucking horseflies, which deserve to spread disease. In addition, the stripes might work as a natural sunscreen. 

Each zebra"s stripes space unique. Simply as no two person fingerprints room alike, no 2 zebras have the same stripe pattern.


The largest zebra is the Grevy"s zebra, according to the mountain Diego Zoo. It weighs 770 come 990 lbs. (350 come 450 kilograms) and also is about 5 feet (1.5 meters) high from shoulder to hoof. Their thick bodies do them look like mules v stripes. 

Mountain zebras are from 3.8 to 4.9 feet (116 come 150 cm) tall at the shoulder and weigh 529 come 820 lbs. (240 to 372 kg), follow to the University that Michigan Museum of Zoology.

Plains zebras room 3.6 to 4.8 feet (1.1 to 1.5 m) in ~ the shoulder and weigh approximately 770 lbs. (350 kg), according to the African Wildlife Foundation. 


Though they all live in Africa, each species of zebra has its own residence area. Levels zebras live in the treeless grasslands and also woodlands of eastern and southern Africa. The Grevy"s zebra stays in in the arid grasslands of Ethiopia and also northern Kenya. The hill zebra is uncovered in south Africa, Namibia and Angola. 


Plains zebras and mountain zebras live in family members groups led through a stallion, with number of mares and offspring. Family members groups (known together harems) sometimes obtain together to type loosely connected herds, according to the san Diego Zoo. However, Grevy"s zebras don"t have herds. Instead, stallions establish territories and also mares cross into them come breed and give birth. Once the foals space old sufficient to travel, they and their mothers relocate on. 

Zebras have actually several ways they connect with one another. Facial expressions, such together wide-open eye or bared teeth, all typical something. They additionally bark, bray, snort or huff to get their allude across. Also the position of your ears deserve to signal your feelings, follow to the mountain Diego Zoo. For example, ears flattened back way trouble. One more habit of zebras is common grooming, i beg your pardon they carry out to strengthen your bonds v each other. 

Known predators that zebras incorporate lions, leopards, cheetahs and hyenas. Once danger approaches, the stallion will alert the others with a high-pitched snort, according to the university of Michigan. He will certainly stand his ground if the rest of the family runs far in zigzag fashion. If he must fight, he will reduced his head with neck outstretched and teeth bared, all set to bite. However, to run away is the normal tactic, sometimes accompanied through a protective kick. The kick have the right to be powerful, though, and can cause serious injury come a predator.


Zebras eat mostly grass and also will take trip up to 1,800 miles searching for food, according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Some zebras likewise eat leaves and also twigs.


Female zebras lug their young for a gestation period of 12 come 14 months. Infant zebras are dubbed foals. Once they are born, foals weigh roughly 55 come 88 pounds (25 to 40 kg), follow to the San Diego Zoo. Shortly after birth, foals space able to was standing up and walk. The young zebra gets its nutrition indigenous its mother"s milk and also will continue to nurse transparent its very first year. Zebras become fully mature in ~ 3 to 6 year old and will have a expectation of approximately 25 years.


Some professionals say the there are three species of zebras — Grevy"s zebra, levels zebra and mountain zebra — and also that Hartmann"s zebra is a subspecies of mountain zebra. Other experts say Hartmann"s zebra is a separate species. 

For example, the worldwide Union because that Conservation that Nature (IUCN) says genetic analysis does not assistance the theory that Hartmann"s zebra is a different species. The Integrated Taxonomic information System (ITIS), a organization of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, ~ above the various other hand, lists four species.

Likewise, the IUCN says a 2008 research of 17 plains zebra populations that represented 5 of the six subspecies uncovered very little differentiation among them and also concludes the the subspecies splits might be arbitrary. ITIS, however, lists six subspecies of plains zebra. 

The taxonomy that zebras, according to ITIS, is:

Kingdom: Animalia Subkingdom: Bilateria Infrakingdom: Deuterostomia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Infraphylum: Gnathostomata Superclass: Tetrapoda Class: Mammalia Subclass: Theria Infraclass: Eutheria Order: Perissodactyla Family: Equidae GenusEquus Species:

Equus grevyi (Grevy"s zebra)Equus hartmannae (Hartmann"s zebra, Hartmann"s hill zebra)Equus zebra (Cape hill zebra, hill zebra)Equus quagga (Plains zebra)

Subspecies of plains zebra:

Equus quagga boehmi (Grant"s zebra)Equus quagga borensis (Half-maned zebra)Equus quagga burchellii (Zululand zebra, Damara zebra, Burchell"s zebra, Bontequagga)Equus quagga chapmani (Chapman"s zebra)Equus quagga crawshayi (Crawshay"s zebra)Equus quagga quagga (Quagga; extinct)

preservation Status

Each varieties of zebra has actually its very own conservation status. Follow to the IUCN"s Red perform of threatened Species, the plains zebra is no endangered, while the hill zebra is thought about vulnerable and also the Grevy"s zebra is endangered. The Red List likewise lists Hartmann"s zebra (as a subspecies of mountain zebra) as vulnerable.

The mountain zebra is thought about vulnerable due to the fact that its population is low and susceptible come decreasing. Follow to the IUCN, the mountain zebra has a populace of only roughly 9,000 adults. 

Though the population of the Grevy"s zebra is stable, the is thought about endangered because its numbers room so small. The Grevy"s zebra has actually a populace of simply 1,966 to 2,447, according to IUCN.

The quagga, considered since 1984 to it is in a subspecies of levels zebra based on genetic evidence, has actually been extinct because the 19th century, once the last one passed away at the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883.

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Alina Bradford is a contributing writer because that Live Science. End the previous 16 years, Alina has covered everything from Ebola come androids while creating health, science and tech articles for significant publications. She has actually multiple health, safety and also lifesaving certifications indigenous Oklahoma State University. Alina"s goal in life is to shot as countless experiences together possible. To date, she has been a volunteer firefighter, a dispatcher, instead of teacher, artist, janitor, children"s publication author, pizza maker, occasion coordinator and much more.