Zebras are ungulates, which just means hoofed animals. They belong to the Equidae family, the horse family. Zebra have excellent eyesight and hearing. There are three main species of zebra: Plains Zebra, Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra.
Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) are sometimes called common zebra, because they are the most common and geographically widespread. Plains subspecies include; Grant’s, Burchell’s, and Chapman’s or Damara. Grant’s zebras have a V-shaped pattern of stripes midway on their bodies. Burchell’s stripes are wider and become horizontal toward the rear. The zebra with dark and light stripes is the Damara (also called Damarland).
There are two categories of Mountain Zebra: Hartman Mountain and Cape Mountain. Their stripes are narrow at the front and get wider at the back, while the rear spine and upper tail are marked with a zipper-like pattern. They also have something that no other equine has—a dewlap or wattle of flesh under the throat. These zebras are also good rock climbers.
Grevy’s Zebras are thought to be the oldest zebra type. They have a short, thick neck. Their stripes are narrower than other zebras and have one long stripe that runs along their back, plus they have a white belly. Grevy’s are the biggest zebra, yet they need less water than other types. However, they are endangered by lost of habitat, competition with domestic animals for water, and by poachers killing them for their hides.
Fun Zebra Facts
- In South Africa there is a project to bring back the Quagga, an extinct subspecies of the Plains Zebra. You can read about it by clicking on the link, "Quagga Project," below.
- Zebras can run up to 40 miles per hour and baby zebras can run an hour after they are born!
- In ancient Rome Grevy’s zebras were called hippotigris and trained to pull carts for the circus.
- On the Serengeti plains, Burchell’s zebras sometimes form migratory herds of tens of thousands!
- Not only can you tell what type of zebra it is by its stripes, but no zebra has exactly the same stripes.
Herds of Info about Zebras
Kids’ Planet – Defenders of Wildlife
San Diego Zoo
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History