Zebra have the appearance of striped ponies. All zebra have black and white stripes, males and females look the same.
Habitat and Distribution
Plains Zebra range from southern Sudan and southern Ethiopia, east of the Nile River, to southern Angola and northern Namibia and northern South Africa.
Zebras inhabit open, grassy plains or well-grassed woodlands. Zebras can either be sedentary or migratory; their lifestyle is dependent on the availability of food. In seasonally dry areas like the Serengeti of Tanzania, families of plains zebra gather to form large herds that migrate in search of food.
Plains Zebra are locally common throughout their range both in and also outside protected areas (especially in Kenya and Tanzania). Total numbers were estimated at about 660000. Plains zebra populations are considered to be stable.
Plains zebra, are very adaptable grazers, able to eat both short young shoots and long flowering grasses. Zebra are often a pioneer in the grassland community, the first to enter tall or wet pastures and wildebeests and antelope often follow once the zebras have trampled and clipped the vegetation shorter.
In zoos, zebra graze pastures or are fed grass hay. Plains zebra are extremely dependent on water and never wander far from waterholes, where they usually drink at least once a day.
Breeding and Lifecycle
The plains zebra is highly social and usually forms small family groups consisting of a single stallion, one, two or several mares, and their recent offspring, often referred to as a harem. Bachelor males form groups with other bachelors until they are ready to start their own harems.
Plains Zebra are perennial breeders as breeding occurs throughout the year both in the wild and in captivity.
Plains zebra stallion are sexually mature at two years of age, but generally only the older herd stallions over four years of age have the opportunity to breed. Mares reach sexual maturity at 2 years of age and can continual to foal to around 20 years of age.
Plains Zebra give birth to a single foal after a gestation of 350 days, they can conceive again straight after giving birth, so can foal yearly.
The longevity record in plains zebra is 40 years, but a zebra in its’ late 20’s considered to be old.
It all about the stripes.
Why do zebra have stripes? Zebra stripes are there for camouflage- to confuse predators when charging into a herd of zebras. The rapid movement of the black and white stripes makes it harder for the predator to focus on just one animal, increasing the zebras’ chances of getting away
Black with white stripes or white with black stripes? Embryological evidence shows that the animal’s background color is actually black and the white stripes and bellies are additions.
As with human fingerprints, each zebra has its own pattern of stripes. No zebra is striped exactly like any other, but the can inherit similar patterns to their parents.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association acknowledges Zoos Victoria for providing the factsheet information above.