Zebra

Category: Wildlife

Mountain zebras inhabit the mountains and deserts of southwestern Africa and South Africa. Plains or common zebras live in the grasslands and woodlands of southeastern Africa, while Grevy’s zebras are found in the grasslands of northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia. Zebras graze on grasses and other types of vegetation. They have an average life span of 25 years in the wild.

Zebra

Zebra

Common or Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)

Common or Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)

Zebra Foal

Zebra Foal

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Perissodactyla

Family - Equidae

Genus - Equus

Species & Common Names - There are three zebra species: Equus quagga, Equus grevyi and Equus zebra. Equus quagga is commonly known as the common zebra, plains zebra, Burchelli’s zebra or painted zebra. Equus grevyi is commonly called Grevy’s zebra. The common names for Equus zebra are mountain zebra and Hartmann’s mountain zebra.

Characteristics

Zebras have white coats with black or brown stripes. Common zebras have wider stripes that also cover their bellies, while mountain zebras and Grevy’s zebras have thinner stripes. Grevy’s zebras have a stockier appearance than other zebra species, while mountain zebras have a fold of skin on their throat. Adult zebras weigh between 440 and 990 pounds and measure between 3.5 and 5 feet high at the shoulder.

Breeding

Zebras breed throughout the year. Females have a gestation period that ranges from 360 to 390 days, after which they give birth to one foal. Mothers take care of their young until they are old enough to leave the herd, which happens when they are between 1 to 3 years old, depending on species

Behavior

Plains zebras and mountain zebras form herds that maintain strong social bonds and constantly watch for predators, such as lions. They spend much of their day grazing. Grevy’s zebras form much looser social groups. Zebras communicate through a variety of vocalizations that include squeals and snorts. They recognize each other by their unique pattern of stripes

History

Historically, zebras had a much larger range than they currently do. Grevy’s zebras were once found in Somalia and Sudan, while plains zebras are now extinct in Burundi and Lesotho. Mountain zebras used to have a wider range in the southern regions of Africa.

Present Status

Grevy’s zebras are listed as endangered, while mountain zebras are listed as vulnerable. Plains or common zebras have a status of least concern. The main threats that Grevy’s zebras face include habitat loss, hunting, disease and reduced water sources, while mountain zebras are threatened by hunting and competition with livestock for water. Zebras are legally protected by international legislation.