What looks just like horses but has a black-and-white, striped body instead? Yes, we’re talking about zebras, the wild equines of Africa. While you all might have seen this animal in the zoo multiple times, we’re certain you’d have no idea about the shocking zebra facts we plan on telling you people today.
So, let’s get started!
1. Zebras belong to the Equine family
The Equine family, often referred to as the horse family, was a rather large and diverse family once upon a time. However, today, all of its members have gone extinct, except for three: horses, donkeys, and zebras.
Of all three equines, horses are the largest, donkeys the smallest, with zebras falling in the middle. They’re between 4.1-5.2 feet in height and can weigh anywhere between 280-450 kilograms.
2. Zebras are the only equids that cannot be domesticated
While there are several similarities between zebras and the other equids, if there’s one quality that sets them apart, it’s this: Although both horses and donkeys can be domesticated, zebras cannot be.
3. A group of zebras is called Dazzle
A group of zebras is called a dazzle, which is quite befitting of these striped creatures that look spectacular standing together. Much like the horses, the male zebras are referred to as stallions, the females are mares, and their offspring are foals.
4. Zebras have an interesting scientific name
The scientific name of the genus of Zebras is hippotigris. But how did these equines come to be associated with such a strange name? Well, this name dates back all the way to the Greek and Roman civilizations, who saw zebras as a combination of horses and tigers and, thus, called them hippotigris.
5. There are three living species of zebras in the world
While the fossil records show that some zebra species have already gone extinct, only three species are extant today. These are the names of the three living zebra species:
- Grevy’s Zebra (Equus grevyi)
- Plains Zebra (Equus quagga)
- Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra)
6. Plains Zebras are the most common zebra species
Of all three living zebra species that we just talked about, the Plains Zebras are the most common. These are the ones you often see in zoos outside of Africa; their population, which has been declared to be near-threatened by the IUCN, is also the highest.
The Mountain Zebras come second, having a vulnerable population, and the Grevy’s Zebras are the third and have an endangered population.
Just like horses and donkeys, zebras are highly social animals and live in any one of these two social structures: a small group of close relatives, or a harem, wherein a single stallion lives with multiple mares and their offspring.
8. Zebras enjoy grooming one another
Grooming is an important activity among the zebras for two reasons. Because these equines participate in mutual grooming by nibbling on the hair along each others’ necks, it strengthens the bonds between different members of a group.
Furthermore, grooming is also a very relaxing activity for the zebras, which is why you’ll find them indulging in it ever so often.
9. Zebras have extraordinary eyesight
Zebras are quite gifted in the eyesight department. With their eyes placed on the side of their heads, these equines have a panoramic vision of 215 degrees.
They can also see just as well during the day as during nighttime. And since they’re herbivores, the only use of their stellar eyesight is to escape their predators efficiently!
10. Zebras have very flexible ears
Have you ever been in a situation where you’re excluded from a conversation and are straining your ears hard just to listen to what they’re saying? Well, if the zebras were in your shoes, they wouldn’t need to strain their ears at all; they’d simply move in that direction.
You read that right. Zebras have movable ears and can point them in any direction to hear better. This also helps them detect their predators well in time to escape successfully. Lastly, their ears can even act as a means these equines use to communicate their moods to each other.
11. Zebras’ teeth can keep growing all their lives
Just like the horses, the teeth of zebras also keep growing throughout their lives. It is to wear their teeth down that these equines graze on grass all the time. Imagine how difficult it would be to live in the constant fear of overgrown teeth!
12. Zebras are quite the kickers
Do you know what the strongest defense of the zebras is? It’s their kick. These equines are blessed with surprisingly strong hindquarters, stronger even than the horses, according to some experts.
And if you really think about it, it makes a lot of sense as well. Zebras live in the wild with fast and ruthless predators like lions and hyenas hunting them aggressively. Without a means to defend themselves, they have very little chance of survival.
13. Zebras take naps standing up!
Who among us doesn’t enjoy a relaxing nap? The zebras love it so much that they don’t even bother to lie down for it. You’ll often find them standing with their eyes closed; this is how they nap! However, to obtain a deep sleep, these guys need to lie down just like us.
14. Zebras are black-skinned!
All of us know that zebras have black-and-white stripes all across their bodies, but do you know what color their skin is? Is their skin striped as well?
Here’s the truth about zebras’ skin and stripes: these equines actually have black skin all over their body, with white stripes drawn over them. Different biologists have had different theories about the function of these stripes, but the most popular one to date is camouflage.
In other words, the stripes on zebras’ bodies help them blend with their surroundings, thereby making it difficult for their predators to prey on them.
15. Zebras are long-distance migrants
Other than seasonal changes, food is the primary factor behind the migration of countless creatures in the animal kingdom. Zebras are one such creature as well and travel in large herds in areas of more abundant forage every year.
In fact, according to National Geographic, a herd of zebras traveled over 300 miles across Africa in search of high-quality forage, making them the only African mammals to have done that!
16. Grevy’s Zebras are the largest wild equid in the world
Among the living zebra species, the Grevy’s Zebras are the largest, while the Plains Zebras are the smallest. This makes the former not only the largest member of the zebra genus but also the largest wild equid in the world!
17. Grevy’s Zebras are named after a former president of France
It’s evident from their name itself that Grevy’s Zebras have been named after someone. Wondering who? Allow us to answer your question.
These zebras were named by Jules Grevy, a French lawyer who also served as the President of France between 1879 and 1887.
But why were these African equids named after a French president? Well, it was because, in 1882, the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) gifted the president a zebra and then named the species after him. Pretty generous, aren’t they?
18. Plains Zebras had a subspecies that is now extinct
Have you ever seen in cartoons a zebra that has stripes only in the front part of its body while its back area is bare? This might come as a surprise to you, but it isn’t an imaginary creature but an actual zebra that has now gone extinct.
This zebra was named Quagga, and was a subspecies of the Plains Zebra. Because of their unusual appearance, the Quaggas were hunted extensively throughout Africa and eventually became extinct back in 1883.
19. Zebras can also breed with other equines
When it comes to breeding, zebras are quite flexible and are also known to mate with other equines, although on rare occasions. Any individual born out of a crossbreeding between zebra and other equines is called a Zebroid.
The hybrids of zebras and horses are called Zorse, while that of zebra and donkeys is called Zeedonk.
20. Zebras are the national animal of Botswana
Zebras are the national animal of Botswana, a country located in the southern regions of Africa. These equines appear on the country’s coats of arms, with two zebras symbolizing the essence of wildlife throughout the country.
Wrapping it up
With this, we’ve reached the end of our article. In the end, zebras are truly amazing animals, and there are a lot of things that make them so. Hopefully, you have found this list of zebra facts for kids to be informative and interesting. If there are any facts that you think we missed or should have included, please write us an email and let us know about them.