Species E. quagga (Plains Zebra)
Subspecies E. q. quagga (Quagga) (extinct)
E.q. burchellii (Burchell's and Damara Zebra)
E.q. boehmi (Grant’s Zebra)
E.q. borensis (Selous’ Zebra)
E.q. chapmani (Chapman’s Zebra)
E.q. crawshayi (Crawshay’s Zebra)
Species E. zebra (Mountain Zebra)
E.z. zebra (Cape Mountain Zebra)
E.z. hartmannae (Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra)
Species E. grevyi (Grevy’s Zebra)
GENERAL SPECIES INFORMATION
There are three extant species as well as several subspecies. Zebra populations vary a great deal, and the relationships between and the taxonomic status of several of the subspecies are well known.
(Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli) is the most common, and has or had about twelve subspecies distributed across much of southern and eastern Africa. It, or particular subspecies of it, have also been known as the Common Zebra, the Dauw, Burchell's Zebra (actually the subspecies Equus quagga burchelli), Chapman's Zebra, Wahlberg's Zebra, Selous’ Zebra, Grant's Zebra, Boehm's Zebra and the Quagga (another extinct subspecies, Equus quagga quagga).
(Equus zebra) of southwest Africa tends to have a sleek coat with a white belly and narrower stripes than the Plains Zebra. It has two subspecies and is classified as endangered.
(Equus grevyi) is the largest type, with a long, narrow head making it appear rather mule-like. It is an inhabitant of the semi-arid grasslands of Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The Grevy's Zebra is one of the rarest species of zebra around today, and is classified as endangered.
Although zebra species may have overlapping ranges, they do not interbreed. This held true even when the Quagga and Burchell's race of Plains Zebra shared the same area. In captivity, Plains Zebras have been crossed with Mountain zebras. The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap and resembled the Plains Zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern. Attempts to breed a Grevy's zebra stallion to Mountain Zebra mares resulted in a high rate of miscarriage.
IUCN 2008. <www.iucnredlist.org>.
Plains Zebra Listed as Least Concern as the species as a whole remains widespread, common, and there are no major threats resulting in a range-wide population decline.
Mountain Zebra Listed as Vulnerable and could be subject to a decline exceeding 10% over the course of the coming 27 years
Grevy's Zebra Listed as Endangered is estimated to have declined by more than 50% over the past 18 years based on direct observation and potential/actual levels of exploitation. In addition, the current total population is estimated at 750 mature individuals.
ISIS 2009 < https://app.isis.org/abstracts/abs.asp >.
Plains Zebra: Total numbers ?
quagga (Quagga): -extinct (1883)
632 -burchellii (Burchell's Zebra includes Damara Zebra): 167 Males, 362 Females, 103 Unknowns
40 -Hybrid-burchellii (Burchell's Zebra includes Damara Zebra): 17 Males, 22 Females, 1 Unknown
537 -boehmi (Grant's Zebra): 134 Males, 333 Females, 70 Unknowns
? -borensis (Selous' zebra):
170 -chapmani (Chapman's Zebra): 53 Males, 107 Females, 10 Unknown
? -crawshayi (Crawshay's Zebra):
Mountain Zebra: Total numbers ~9,000 mature individuals,
? -Cape Mountain Zebras:
? -Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras:
Grevy's Zebra: Total numbers ?
Over 75% of the world’s Plains Zebra are of the Grant’s subspecies Total numbers were estimated at ~660,000 in 2002
quagga (Quagga): -extinct (1883)
burchellii (Burchell's Zebra includes Damara Zebra) ~
boehmi (Grant's Zebra): ~515,000 (220,000 in the Serengeti plans)
borensis (Selous' zebra) ~
chapmani (Chapman's Zebra) ~
crawshayi (Crawshay's Zebra) ~
Cape Mountain Zebras: estimated to be more than 1,500 individuals (ca. 500 mature).
Hartmann’s Mountain Zebras: about 13,000, or approximately 8,300 mature individuals
Grevy's Zebra: Total numbers were estimated at ~1,966 to 2,447
Countries of Existence
Native: Botswana; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Ethiopia; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania, United Republic of; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Possibly extinct: Angola
Regionally extinct: Burundi; Lesotho
Native: Namibia; South Africa (Eastern Cape Province, Northern Cape Province, Western Cape Province)
Presence uncertain: Angola
Native: Ethiopia; Kenya
Regionally extinct: Djibouti; Somalia
Presence uncertain: Sudan
Plains Zebra is mid-sized and thick bodied with relatively short legs. Adults of both sexes stand about 1.4 meters (4.6 ft) high at the shoulder, are approximately 2.3 meters (8 ft) long, and weigh about 294 kg (646 lbs) however males may weigh 10% more than females. Like all zebras, it is boldly striped in black and white and no two individuals look exactly alike. All have vertical stripes on the forepart of the body, which tend towards the horizontal on the hindquarters. The northern populations have narrower and more defined striping; southern populations have varied but lesser amounts of striping on the underparts, the legs and the hindquarters. Southern populations also have brown "shadow" stripes between the black and white coloring. The first subspecies to be described, the Quagga which is now extinct, had plain brown hindquarters. (Technically, because the Quagga was described first as E. quagga, the proper zoological name for the most common form of the Plains Zebra is E. quagga burchelli..
Mountain Zebra Like all zebras, it is boldly striped in black and white and no two individuals look exactly alike. The stripe can be black and white or dark brown and white. Their stripes cover their whole bodies except for their bellies. The Mountain zebra also has a dewlap. Adult mountain zebras have a body length of 2.2m (7.2ft). Shoulder height ranges from 1-1.4 m (3-4 ft.) They typically weigh between 240 and 372 kg. (528 to 818.4 lbs) Groves and Bell found that the Cape mountain zebra exhibits sexual dimorphism, with larger females than males, while the Hartmann's mountain zebra does not. The black stripes of Hartmann's mountain zebra are thin with much wider white interspaces, while this is the opposite in Cape mountain zebra.
Grevy's Zebra is the largest of all wild equines. It is 2.5-2.75 m (8-9 ft) from head to tail with a 38-75 cm (15-30 in) tail, and stands 1.45-1.6 m (4'7"-5'3") high at the shoulder. These zebras weigh 350-450 kg (770-990 lb). The stripes are narrow and close-set, being broader on the neck, and they extend to the hooves. The belly and the area around the base of the tail lack stripes. With all of the stripes closer together and thinner than most of the other zebras, it is easier to make a good escape and to hide from predators. The ears are very large, rounded, and conical. The head is large, long, and narrow, particularly mule-like in appearance. The mane is tall and erect; juveniles having a mane extending the length of the back.
Shoulder height: 4.2 to 4.9 feet (1.3 to 1.5 meters) Grevy’s 5.5 feet
Weight: 550 to 900 pounds (250 to 430 kilograms) Grevy’s up to 990 pounds
Size at birth:' 55 to 88 pounds (25 to 40 kilograms)
Adult Size: On average, males are about ten percent larger than females
Plains Zebra live in all habitats in Africa from sea level to 14,000 ft (4,300 m) on Mount Kenya, with the exception of rain forests, deserts, dune forests, and Cape Sclerophyllous vegetation
Mountain Zebra inhabit rugged, broken mountainous and escarpment areas up to around 6,500 ft (2,000 m) with a rich diversity of grass species and perennial water sources.
Grevy’s Zebras live in arid and semi-arid grass/shrubland where there is permanent water.
Plains Zebra are selective grazers, and in the Serengeti Grogan’s (1973) research indicated that Pennisetum mezianum was a preferred species. He compared proportions ingested to their availability in the sward and found that there was significant selection and rejection of grass species.
Mountain Zebra are predominantly grazers, only browsing if forced to do so.
Grevy’s Zebra are predominantly grazers, although browse can comprise up to 30% of their diet during times of drought or in those areas which have been highly transformed through overgrazing.
Captive Zebras are fed hay, alfalfa, and carrots.
Life span: 25 years. One wild born specimen was about 38 years old when it died in captivity. Reports of animals living 40 years in captivity have not been confirmed.
Gestation: 12 to 14 months, depending on species
Number of young at birth: 1
Size at birth: 55 to 88 pounds (25 to 40 kilograms)
Age of maturity: 3 to 6 years
Zebra foals are dark brown and white at birth. They can walk just 20 minutes after they are born, and can run after an hour! This is important since the mare needs to move with the herd to find food and water. She cannot leave the foal behind, so it must be up and running quickly in order to stay with the family.
Grevy's zebras usually mate in August, September, and October, and bear foals during the rainy seasons. After mating, females give birth to a single foal 13 months later. Foals nurse heavily for half a year and may travel with their mothers for three years.
Zebras walk, trot, canter and gallop and can run at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. They are generally slower than horses but their great stamina helps them outpace predators. When chased, a zebra will zig-zag from side to side making it more difficult for the predator. When cornered the zebra will rear up and kick or bite its attacker.
Plains Zebras are highly sociable living in groups, known as 'harems', consisting of one stallion with up to six mares and their foals. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion.
Mountain Zebras typical social structure is one of small harems comprising an adult stallion and one to three (maximum five) mares and their dependent foals; non-breeding groups consist primarily of bachelors, but sometimes include young fillies.
Grevy's Zebras do not have permanent social bonds. A group of these zebras rarely stays together for more than a few months. Groups of females with young form herds of up to 200 animals. The foals stay with their mother, while the adult male lives alone. However like the other two zebra species, bachelor male zebras will organize in groups.
Zebras are social herd animals, for the most part, living in family groups with a stallion, several mares, and their offspring. During certain times of the year, these groups gather together to form loosely associated herds of up to several hundred, but the family groups still stay together within these larger groups. When attacked by packs of hyenas or wild dogs, a zebra group will huddle together with the foals in the middle while the stallion tries to ward them off.
Most zebras are considered nomadic, without specific territories.
The exception is the Grevy's zebra Breeding males mark out territories with urine and dung middens and defend resource territories (water and food being the key resources) of 6.5 – 39 sq ft (2–12 km²); the home range size of non-territorial individuals is up to 6.2 sq miles (10,000 km²). If food becomes scarce, though, the stallions will leave their territories for awhile and travel with the larger herds. The mares, their foals, and immature males wander through as they wish. They are extremely mobile and individuals have been recorded to move distances of greater than 80 km, with movements determined by the availability of resources; lactating females, for example, can only tolerate one or two days away from water.
Grazing: Zebras are predominantly grazers and only browsing if forced to do so, they are also known to be selective of certain types of grass.
Grooming: Zebras reinforce their bonds with one another by grooming each other. You might see two zebras standing head to back, apparently biting each other, but they are really only nibbling on each other with their teeth to pull out loose hair and get a good scratch.
Sleeping: Like horses, zebras sleep standing up and only sleep when neighbors are around to warn them of predators. Zebras have excellent hearing and eyesight.
Wild: % foraging % walking % Socializing % rest
Zebras communicate with each other with high pitched barks and whinnying. Grevy's zebras make mule-like brays. A zebra’s ears signify its mood. When a zebra is in a calm, tense or friendly mood, its ears stand erect. When it is frightened, its ears are pushed forward. When angry, the ears are pulled backward. When surveying an area for predators, zebras will stand in an alert posture; with ears erect, head held high, and staring. When tense they will also snort. When a predator is spotted or sensed, a zebra will bark (or bray) loudly
• Each zebra has its unique stripe pattern—like human fingerprints.
• Zebras take dust or mud baths to get clean. They shake the dirt off to get rid of loose hair and flaky skin. What's left protects them from sun, wind, and insects.
• Zebras have their own “smile”—a bared-teeth grimace that is a greeting and helps prevent aggression.
• Zebras are attracted to black-and-white stripes. Even if stripes are painted on a wall, a zebra will tend to go stand next to it!
• A zebra's eyesight at night is thought to be about as good as that of a cat or an owl. White with black stripes or black with white stripes? This is one of the most-asked questions about zebras. So what's up with the stripes? Zebras are generally thought to have white coats with black (sometimes brown) stripes. That's because if you look at most zebras, the stripes end on their bellies and toward the insides of the legs, and the rest is all white. However (there had to be a catch, right?), some zebras are born with genetic variations that make them all black with white stripes, or mostly dark with the striped pattern only on part of their coats. And as it turns out, zebras have black skin underneath their hair. So it kind of depends on how you look at it!
Attempts have been made to train zebras for riding since they have better resistance than horses to African diseases. However most of these attempts failed, due to the zebra's more unpredictable nature and tendency to panic under stress. For this reason, zebra-mules or zebroids (crosses between any species of zebra and a horse, pony, donkey or ass) are preferred over pure-bred zebras. In England, the zoological collector Lord Rothschild frequently used zebras to draw a carriage. In 1907, Rosendo Ribeiro, the first doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, used a riding zebra for house-calls. In the mid 1800s Governor George Grey imported zebras to New Zealand from his previous posting in South Africa, and used them to pull his carriage on his privately owned Kawau Island. Captain Horace Hayes, in "Points of the Horse" (circa 1893) compared the usefulness of different zebra species. In 1891, Hayes broke a mature, intact Mountain Zebra stallion to ride in two days time, and the animal was quiet enough for his wife to ride and be photographed upon. He found the Burchell's zebra easy to break in and considered it ideal for domestication, as it was immune to the bite of the tsetse fly. He considered the quagga well-suited to domestication due to being easy to train to saddle and harness. Romans called Grevy's zebras 'hippotigris' and trained them to pull two-wheeled carts for exhibition in circuses. Grevy's zebra is named after a former French President.(1882) Burchell's zebra is named after the British explorer, William Burchell explored southern Africa for five years (1810-1815)
ZEBRA ENRICHMENT and TRAINING PROGRAM
Fallow link Zebra Enrichment and Training Program for species spacific enrichment and training activities.