Uniqueness of African Zebras:
Zebras are known for their unique black-and-white stripes. They have black skin underneath white and black (sometimes brown) hair. The stripes actually help them hide from predators. A striped animal standing motionless in grass and low shrubs is nearly invisible, since the stripes blend in with the background. Stripes help when zebras are on the move, too. When a herd of zebras is running from a lion or leopard, the blur of fast-moving stripes makes it hard for the cat to distinguish between animals—making it difficult to chase one.
Eat Your Veggies:
Zebras spend nearly two-thirds of their day eating. Like all members of the horse family, they primarily graze on grasses. During droughts or when grass is scarce, they may also eat bark and leaves. Adult zebras can go up to five days without water and will walk up to nine miles to a water source! Mares with young foals must drink every day. They stay close to a source of water until the foals are threeto-four months old.
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. Zebras communicate with one aother with facial expressions and sounds.
They make loud braying or barking sounds and soft snorting or whuffling sounds. The position of their ears, how wide open their eyes are, and whether their mouths are open or their teeth are bared all mean something. Zebras also 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.
Pregnancy and childbirth:
There’s not a specific breeding season for zebras: breeding and births occur throughout the year. After a 13-month gestation, a mare gives birth to a single foal which weighs 80-125 pounds. Foals are born with dark brown stripes and fuzzy hair coats. They can walk just 20 minutes after they are born, and can run after only an hour! By one year of age, their coats become less fuzzy and sleeker, and their stripes turn black. Newborns stay close to their mothers at all times for protection and nurse frequently through the day—a necessity in a world where predators keep a sharp lookout.
• 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.
• Each zebra has its unique stripe pattern—like human fingerprints.