As you all know, zebras have stripes. What you may not know is that every one of them has different stripes than every other zebra. Their stripes are their fingerprint. Scientists don’t know why they have stripes. They think maybe the stripes are for camouflage so when they are running away predators, they can’t pick them out from each other or see how far away they are when it is dawn or dusk. Maybe it is to make insects that can only recognize large areas of one color stay off of them or so the zebras could recognize each other.
There are three different species of zebras: plains zebras, Grevy’s zebras, and mountain zebras. The Grevy’s zebra’s stripes are thin, the mountain zebra’s stripes are vertical on its neck and torso and horizontal on its legs, and the some of the plains zebra’s stripes have a “brownish” shadow. The Grevy’s zebra’s weight can be from 770 to 990 pounds, and they are up to five feet tall from the shoulder to the hooves. The mountain zebra can be 529 to 820 pounds, and are 3.8 to 4.9 feet tall. The plains zebra can be up to 770 pounds, and are 3.6 to 4.8 feet tall.
All zebras live in Africa, but they all live in different parts. Plains zebras live in eastern and southern Africa where there are treeless grasslands and woodlands. Grevy’s zebras live in the grasslands of Ethiopia and northern Kenya where there is not much rain. Mountain zebras live in South Africa, Namibia, and Angola. Plains and mountain zebras have harems that are lead by a stallion (male zebra) and there are mares (female zebra) with there offspring. Grevy’s zebra don’t have harems though. Instead stallions have territory that the mares go to and breed. They breed all year round. The mare is pregnant for twelve-thirteen months. It only has one foal at a time. The foals are brown and white instead of black and white when they are born. The mare keeps the foal away for 2-3 days to make sure it gets to know her scent, voice, and looks. Once the foal is old enough to travel the mare and its foal will leave.
Zebras often communicate with each other through facial expressions; for example, wide opened eyes and bared teeth. Sometimes they snort, huff, bark, or bray to make sure their point gets across. Sometimes even their ears can signal things; for example, if their ears are flattened, it means trouble. They have excellent eyesight and hearing. They also groom each other to bond.
Their predators are lions, cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. The stallions will warn everyone else with a high-pitched snort if predators are close. They can run up to thirty-five miles per hour. While everyone else runs away, the stallion will stay, but if he needs to fight, he will. Most of the time they try to run away, though. The stallion will also give a defensive kick that can cause a lot of damage to the predator. Zebras eat grass and sometimes leaves and twigs. When they chew, their front teeth clip off the grass, and then the back teeth crush and grind the food. They spend a lot of time eating, and that wears down their teeth, therefore their teeth are always growing throughout their lifetime. They will travel 1,800 miles just to look for food. While all the zebras rest at night, one of them will stay awake to prevent an ambush.
They are classified as kingdom: animalia, phylum: chordate, class: mammalia, order: perissodactyla, family: equidae, and genus: equus. The Grevy’s zebra is endangered, but the plains zebras isn’t endangered. The mountain zebra is vulnerable to being endangered. The mountain zebra is vulnerable because the population could decrease. Even though its population is around 9,000, it is still considered low. The Grevy’s zebra is stable compared to the mountain zebra, but its population is only around 1,966 to 2,447. There was a zebra that was called quagga that was a subspecies of the plains zebra, but it became extinct in 1883 when the last one died at the Amsterdam Zoo.
Some relatives of the zebras are horses and donkeys. All three of them are all in the same genus. Horses and zebras both travel in herds, graze for food, and are very social. They all have very good hearing and can turn their ears in any direction. They all are hooved mammals and have an odd number of toes. Horses can be domesticated unlike zebras. Due to the fact that zebras have unpredictable nature, attempts to tame zebras have been unsuccessful. Zebras are also striped, and they are a short and stocky compared to horses. Donkeys have the same stocky build as zebras. They both have short manes that stick up, long ears, and the solid tails that have a spurt of hair at the end. Donkeys can’t run that fast and have a poor flight response compared to zebras. Zebras are wild and undomesticated, and Donkeys can be affectionate and good work animals even if they are stubborn. Zebras require more food then donkeys since donkeys are adapted to the desert where food is scarce.
Even though rhinoceroses and tapirs look way different from zebras, they are related. Rhinoceros and zebras both are herbivores, hindgut fermenters (the way they digest food), odd-toed ungulates (hoofed animal), and lack gallbladders. Rhinoceros are also in the same order as zebras. A tapir looks like a large pig (it is those big white and black things in the jungle at the zoo). It has the same simulates with the zebra and rhinoceros.
Zebras are very interesting animals to me and maybe to you. They may be popular for the print on their fur, but they are much more than that. I have learned a lot about them writing this paper, and I hope you have learned as much as I did.