10 Interesting Zebra Facts
Zebras, who are natives of Africa, belong to the family (Equidae), of horses, and donkeys. There are three different species of zebras – Plains Zebra, Grevy’s Zebra and Mountain Zebra, only Plains Zebra and Mountain Zebra have subspecies. The most commonly seen is the Plains Zebra (Scientific name – Equus burchellii). Grevy’s Zebra is named after the French President Jules Grévy, as he was the first person to receive a specimen of the animal in 1882, from the emperor of Abyssmania (Ethiopia). Let us read through the interesting facts about zebras.
1. There are three main species of zebra. They are the Plains Zebra, the Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra. The Plains Zebra is also known as the common zebra. Among the three species, Mountain Zebra is the smallest in size and the Grevy’s Zebra is the largest. Plains Zebras have shorter legs than the other two species.
2. Zebras are not the only members of the genus Equus to possess stripes.Various species of asses, including the African wild ass (Equus asinus), have some stripes (for instance, Equus asinus has stripes on the lower portion of its legs). Zebras are nonetheless the most distinctively striped of the equids.
3. Burchell’s zebra is named after the British explorer, William John Burchell. William Burchill explored southern Africa for five years (1810-1815) during which time he collected numerous specimens of plants and animals. He sent the specimens to the British Museum where they were placed in storage and where, unfortunately, many of the specimens were said to have been left to perish. This negligence led to a bitter row between Burchell and museum authorities.
4. Grevy’s zebra is named after a former French President. In 1882, the emperor of Abyssinia sent a zebra as a gift to the president of France at the time, Jules Grevy. The unfortunate animal died on arrival and was stuffed and placed in the Natural History Museum in Paris, where a scientist later noted its unique stripe pattern and christened it a new species, Equus grevyi, after the French president to whom the animal had been sent (Lumpkin 2004).
5. The strip pattern on every zebra is unique. This unique stripe pattern provides researchers with an easy method for identifying the individuals they study.
6. Mountain zebras are skilled climbers. This climbing skill comes in handy considering mountain zebras inhabit mountain slopes in South Africa and Namibia up to elevations of 2000m above sea level. Mountain zebras have hard, pointed hooves that are well-suited for negotiating the slopes (Walker 2005)
7. You can distinguish among the three species by looking for a few key features. Mountain zebras have a dewlap. Burchell’s zebras and Grevy’s zebras do not have a dewlap. Grevy’s zebras have a thick strip on their rump and extends towards their tail. Grevy’s zebras also have a broader neck than the other species of zebras and a white belly. Burchell’s zebras often have ‘shadow strips’ (stripes of a lighter color that occur between the darker stripes). Like Grevy’s zebras, some Burchell’s zebras have a white belly.
8. Adult male Burchell’s zebras are quick to defend their families. Male Burchell’s zebras ward off predators by kicking or biting them and have been known to kill hyaenas with a single kick.
9. A ‘zebdonk’ is a cross between a Burchell’s zebra and a donkey. Other names for a zebdonk include zonkey, zebrass, and zorse.
10. The other facts about zebra are two subspecies of Burchell’s zebra. Grant’s zebra (Equus burchelli boehmi) is the more common subspecies of Berchell’s zebra. Chapman’s zebra (Equus burchelli antiquorum) is the less common subspecies of Burchell’s zebra.