The Secret Behind The Stripes

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Although they are closely related to horses and donkeys, their smaller size and totally different disposition make them impractical to ride like horses. Their stripes make them easy to differentiate from horses and donkeys.

Yes, they are zebras, the Equidae family member native to eastern and southern Africa. The Grevy’s zebra, the mountain zebra and the plains zebra are the 3 living species.

Not fast, but with incredible stamina

Zebras couldn’t run as fast as horses and their predators. They are only capable of running at the top speed of roughly 68 km/h. However, they can run at top speed for about 1.6 km. They can also maintain the speed at 48 km/h for up to 19 km.

Look tame, but good in self-defence

Zebras look harmless. Nevertheless, they kick, bite and push their predators or another stallion attempts to take over their herd. If a zebra is attacked, other zebras come to its defence by forming a circle or semicircle around it to ward off the predator.

Stripes are unique, with purposes too

The width and pattern of zebra stripes vary by species and are unique among individuals, like our fingerprints. Their stripes help keep them camouflaged, as they can distract and confuse any predators. According to research, another most likely theory is pest control. They protect zebras from biting flies.

Not only cute, but born to survive

They inhabit a hostile habitat that is full of predators. Thus, the newborn foals can stand up 6 minutes after being born. They can walk after 20 minutes and run after approximately 40 to 60 minutes.

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Look heavy, but is an impressive climber

Zebras can weigh up to 450 kg. Nevertheless, they can be found on a mountain as high as 14,000 feet. Their hard, pointed hooves make them an impressive climbers.

Not only super social, but chatty too

Zebras often live in social family groups made up of a male, a few females and their offspring. They also verbally communicate in addition to nonverbally. They produce sounds like whinnies, barks, snorts and sniffs to communicate.

Smaller in size, but always hungry

Although smaller than horses, they spend about 22 hours a day eating. Zebras’ favourite foods are grasses, barks, fruits and leaves. Their digestive systems are adapted to handle highly fibrous foods.

Sleep, but never lie down

Zebras have locking joints, just like other hoofed animals. They can sleep while standing thanks to this joint, which prevents them from toppling over. This adaptation ensures the zebras can escape quickly if threatened. They only lie down when enjoying a deep sleep.

Unique, but still the most cross bred

Zebras are healthier and less susceptible to disease than their equine relatives. However, they are resistant to domestication. Thus, zebras were cross-bred by humans in the 19th century, creating a new species known as “zebroids”. The progeny of a zebra stallion and a horse mare is known as “zorses”. A “zony” is the progeny of a zebra stallion and a pony mare. Zenkey, zonkey, zebrass, or zedonk are names for zebra-donkey hybrids.

Already endangered, but no one care

All 3 living species of zebras are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Grevy’s zebra is the most at risk, with a population fewer than 2000. Hunting and habitat loss is the major threat to zebra populations.