Thursday, November 5, 2015

Facts About Zebras

@Galyna Andrushko/ Shuttertock

Introduction To Zebras

The zebra are one of several wild mammals that are related to horses and have a distinctive coat of dark stripes against a light background. They are widely known for their beautiful striped pattern which is unique to each individual, much like fingerprints are to people. They are one of the more popular and beloved animals in the animal kingdom and their coat is so uniquely fascinating and striking that designers have copied the striped pattern and used it for clothing, handbags and even home decor items. It is said that their stripes help to camouflage them in the brush and protect them from predators such as lions, hyenas and wild dogs. They inhabit the plains and brushlands of eastern and southern Africa as well as mountainous regions. Zebras and African wild asses are the only members of the horse family native to Africa.
Like their relatives the African wild asses, they have a stocky build, muscular bodies and a stiff short mane that stands erect. Their long tail, which ends in a tuft of hair, is used to swat away flies and other insects that pester them. Their hooves are narrower than those of horses but are larger and more rounded than those of asses. Animals in the horse family are known as odd-toed ungulates which basically means a hoofed animal. They have one toe on each foot, large heads with broad noses and large ears that they can turn in virtually any direction. Their eyes are located to either side of their head which provides them with a wider range of vision. They have excellent eyesight in both day and night and also have a keen sense of hearing, smell and taste. They are a bit jumpy and nervous but seem to have very unique and playful personalities. They are extremely social animals and spend quite a lot of time grooming one another.


Just the Facts: Families in the Wild- A full DVD filled with zebras facts

53 minutes DVD entirely focus on zebras and how they live in "family". Fascinating film for both kids and adults.




Types of Zebras And Range Maps

There are three kinds of zebras living at present. A fourth kind of zebra, the Quagga, became extinct in 1883. The Quagga was striped only on the head, neck, and shoulders and the rest of the body was reddish brown.  Learn more about the Quagga: Quagga
Quagga (Equus quagga quagga) is an extinct sub-species of zebra.

3 different zebras

 

Grevy's zebra by bobosh_t (http://www.flickr.com/photos/frted/4847517233/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Plain zebras By Rose Davies from Oxford, UK (Zebras) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Mountain zebra By Tanweer drmc (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Where to see zebras in the wild

Plains zebras: plain zebras, also commonly known as Burchell's zebra, are typically found grazing in

Plain zebras map

the savanna and grasslands in south and east Africa. They have wide black and white stripes covering their bodies from their face right down to their hooves and even have a striped mane that matches the pattern on their neck. They form strong social bonds with other zebras and live in small groups or harems to large herds.

Grevy's zebra: the largest of the living zebras is Grevy's zebra. It stands 4 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 600 pounds. They are known as the imperial zebra with numerous narrow stripes on the head, body and legs and a broad black stripe running down the back. Grevy's zebras are usually found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. They are considered to be an endangered species along with the Mountain zebra. Grevy's zebras are not social in comparison to the other two species and do not live in harems.

Grevy's Zebras Area
Grevy's zebra: the largest of the living zebras is Grevy's zebra. It stands 4 1/2 feet tall at the shoulder and weighs about 600 pounds. They are known as the imperial zebra with numerous narrow stripes on the head, body and legs and a broad black stripe running down the back. Grevy's zebras are usually found in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. They are considered to be an endangered species along with the Mountain zebra. Grevy's zebras are not social in comparison to the other two species and do not live in harems.

Mountain zebras: Mountain zebras are located in the mountainous regions of southwest Africa, live in small family groups and are considered an endangered species. They are distinguished from the other varieties of zebra by a fold of skin on the neck called a dewlap and are the smallest of the zebras measuring less than 4 feet tall at the shoulder. Hartmann's zebra is a subspecies of the Mountain zebra.
Mountain zebras area


 

 

 

 

 

A Zebra's Diet

Zebras are herbivores feeding primarily on 50 different kinds of grasses. They have strong incisor
Two Common or Burchell's Zebras Grazing Among Wildflowers poster
teeth that are excellent for chewing and grinding their food and they have been known to occasionally eat shrubs, bark, herbs, twigs and roots. This diet of extremely low nutritional value sustains them due to their adaptive digestive system. They spend about 18 hours a day grazing and eating grass which makes up about 92 percent of their diet and they are able to digest large amounts of grass in a 24 hour period. Herbs and shrubs make up the balance of their diet and they have been found to dig up roots with their hooves when grass, leaves or shoots are not readily available. Zebras also require water every day with the exception of Mountain zebras who can go from two to five days without water.

Breeding and Baby Zebras

Female zebras, or mares, mature much earlier than males and may have their first offspring around the age of three. Males are not ready to breed until around age five or six. The gestation period is approximately 12 to 13 months before a mare will give birth to one beautiful striped bundle of joy.
Posters: Zebras Poster Art Print - Zebra And Baby, Kevin Schafer (12 x 9 inches)
  1. Baby zebras are called foals and are born with brown and white stripes rather than black and white.
  2. Just like horses, foals are able to stand, walk and nurse shortly after they're born. They will be running alongside Momma within an hour after birth.
  3. Foals begin eating grass just three days after they're born but are not fully weaned for 11 months.
  4. Foals eat some of the adult's dung for about three and a half months for the bacteria which is necessary to digest food.
  5. Mares are extremely protective of their offspring and can become aggressive toward other zebras in the herd. They spend a lot of time sniffing and licking their foal.
  6. A mother recognizes her foal by smell for the first several days and then will know it by sight based on its unique stripe pattern.

Watch this newborn zebra

 

Zebras In The Wild / Zebras In Captivity

More interesting facts about zebras

Zebras may live for 28 years but for many their lifespan in the wild is shortened to an average of 12 years due to predators. They are very fast and can reach a speed of 40 miles an hour on hard-packed ground. Although they have a strong vicious kick, they are defenseless against their principal enemy, the lion. Because they are curious, zebras are easy prey for hunters who kill them for their meat and their hides which make durable striking leather. They are also threatened by different types of environmental changes mainly due to changes in ranching and farming.
Zebras do well in captivity and can be seen in nearly all zoos and circuses. In the wild they travel in bands ranging in size from about ten to hundreds of individuals. They sometimes join herds of other grass-eating animals such as the antelope, giraffe and wildebeest. Although diseases of domestic cattle have killed thousands of zebras, they are resistant to African diseases that are fatal to horses. For this reason, attempts have been made to tame zebras and to cross them with horses. Tame zebras, however, have proved to be stubborn, like mules, and untrustworthy. Successful mating between zebras and horses is possible, producing zebroses or horsebras, but hybridization does not appear to be practical.

Zebras On The Move

Watch the complete video for free on NatgeoTV
Or buy your own copy on DVD:Zebras on the Move

 


 

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