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The Plains Zebra has rather broad stripes, especially towards its rump, with colour ranging from black to dark brown. There is also often a brown ‘shadow stripe’ between the black and white stripe.
There are two other zebra species: the Grevy’s Zebra, which have narrow, closely spaced pinstripes over most of the body right to the hooves, and the Mountain Zebra, which have faint stripes between darker stripes.
Plains Zebras are social animals. They form family groups consisting of a dominant stallion, several mares and foals. Unattached males form separate bachelor groups. In seasonally dry areas such as the Serengeti in Tanzania, small families of Plains Zebras gather to form large herds. Staying together as families within the herd, they travel up to 800km each year in an annual migratory trek that returns to the Serengeti.
Due to the prevalence of predators for zebras, they are restless, highly vigilant and very vocal. Zebras make a unique ‘barking’ sound to communicate. There is always a family member awake to watch out for predators, and warn of any perceived threats.
While Plains Zebra are common in Africa, like many species they are vulnerable to loss of habitat and hunting.
The Plains Zebra at Werribee Open Range Zoo are very important ambassadors for their cousins in the wild, particularly the Grevy's Zebra, which is on the brink of extinction. Listed as ‘Endangered’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) the Grevy’s Zebra population is estimated to have declined by over 50% in a little under two decades. The most current field research suggests there are approximately 2,000 Grevy's Zebra left in the wild.
The most notable threats to the Grevy’s Zebra are: loss and degradation of habitat due to overgrazing, hunting, reduced available water sources, competition for natural resources, and disease.
Zoos Victoria is working to save the Grevy’s Zebra through a community conservation program called Beads for Wildlife.
You can continue helping us with our fighting extinction mission when you support Beads for Wildlife.
Buying a handmade, beaded piece offers crucial support for families in Northern Kenya; reduces the community’s reliance on large numbers of domestic livestock, which in turn reduces competition with local wildlife for natural resources; decreases pressure and violence between tribes fighting over livestock, and, increases the numbers and diversity of wildlife seen in Northern Kenya.
- It was previously thought that zebras were white with black stripes. However, embryological evidence shows that the animal’s background colour is actually black and the white stripes are additions
- The collective noun for a group of zebras is a dazzle of zebras
- Every zebra has its own unique pattern of black and white stripes
- Like horses, zebras sleep standing up, and only sleep when other zebras are around to warn them of predators
- Healesville Sanctuary
- Melbourne Zoo
- Werribee Open Range Zoo