True Wild Life | Zebra | The zebra is best known for the black and white striping pattern unique to each of the 3 species of zebra . Within a species, the pattern of the stripes is unique to each individual zebra, like with a human's fingerprint. There is some evidence that zebras recognize herdmates by their patterns. The plains zebra grows to around 1.5m high and about 2 m long. The Grevy can be much taller, some up to 15 hh. The average zebra weighs around 300kg, which is a similar weight to a horse.
There are 3 species of zebra, all three zebra species are found in Africa. The mountain zebra is sadly an endangered species and there are only a few left in the wild. The Hartman subspecies has a distinct dewlap on the throat. The striping pattern of a mountain zebra is similar to that of a plains zebra, but it has a unique gridiron pattern on the top of the rump. You would think that the zebra's stripes would make the zebra vulnerable to predators as it would be difficult to hide itself. If the zebra has to run away, the zebra's stripes actually help it to blend in with the rest of the fleeing herd, visually confusing predators who are trying to zero in on one specific animal.
One extinct subspecies of the Plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province was the quagga. The quagga was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual zebra stripes on the front part of the body only. The stripes on the quagga gradually fade so its rear was only chestnut. The only quagga to have ever been photographed alive was a mare at the Zoological Society of London's Zoo in Regent's Park in 1870. She was 28 at the time and died a year or two later. Only after she died did zoologists realize she was the very last of her kind. The zebra is a common target for large carnivorous animals that are found in the zebra's habitat. The predators of the zebra include the lion, hyena and the crocodile along with other large mammals such as cheetahs and leopards that tend to hunt the smaller and more vulnerable members of the zebra herd. The zebra's defenses include its very powerful kick, which can break the jaw of a lion. It also has an explosive takeoff and can sprint at good speed for a short distance.
Zebras live together on the African plains in large herds often with or close to other herbivorous mammals such as antelope and wildebeest. Along with the wildebeest , the zebra takes part in the annual great migration following the rains across Africa. Herbivores do this in order to get the best grazing as the grass is at its best after the rain has passed over it. The female zebra usually gives birth to just one zebra foal after a 12 month gestation period. Female zebras have been known to give birth to zebra twins but it is a fairly fair occurrence. Zebra foals are able to stand and run about just hours after birth and remain close the mother zebra until they are big enough to look out for themselves.
It has been known for zebras to occasionally mate with donkeys and horses resulting in a zonkey foal. This is thought to happen extremely rarely in the wild and the zonkey is infertile meaning that it cannot produce offspring of its own. There has also been a documented case of a Grevy zebra mating with a Grant zebra in the wild, producing an interspecies zebra hybrid. The conformation is intermediate between the two. It has Grevy pinstripes arranged in a Grantlike pattern. Like other interspecies hybrids it is sterile.