Zebra
Overview
 
Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s and asses
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra
Plains Zebra
The plains zebra , also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa...

, the Grévy's zebra
Grevy's Zebra
The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

 and the mountain zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

.
Encyclopedia
Zebras are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

s and asses
Donkey
The donkey or ass, Equus africanus asinus, is a domesticated member of the Equidae or horse family. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African Wild Ass, E...

, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra
Plains Zebra
The plains zebra , also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa...

, the Grévy's zebra
Grevy's Zebra
The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

 and the mountain zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grevy's zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass
Asinus
The subgenus Asinus encompasses four species and several subspecies of Equidae characterized by long ears, a lean, straight-backed build, a scant tail, and a reputation for considerable toughness and endurance....

, to which it is closely related, while the former two are more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.

The unique stripes of zebras make these among the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslands, savanna
Savanna
A savanna, or savannah, is a grassland ecosystem characterized by the trees being sufficiently small or widely spaced so that the canopy does not close. The open canopy allows sufficient light to reach the ground to support an unbroken herbaceous layer consisting primarily of C4 grasses.Some...

s, woodland
Woodland
Ecologically, a woodland is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of...

s, thorny scrublands, mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s, and coastal hill
Hill
A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills often have a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. Hills...

s. However, various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grevy's zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga
Quagga
The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only...

, went extinct in the late 19th century, though they have now been rebred from zebra DNA.

Etymology

Zebra in English dates back to c.1600, from Italian Zebra, perhaps from Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

, which in turn is said to be Congolese
Kongo language
The Kongo language, or Kikongo, is the Bantu language spoken by the Bakongo and Bandundu people living in the tropical forests of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola. It is a tonal language and formed the base for Kituba, a Bantu creole and lingua franca...

 (as stated in the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

). The Encarta Dictionary says its ultimate origin is uncertain, but perhaps it may come from Latin Equiferus meaning "Wild horse," from equus "horse" and ferus "wild, untamed". The pronunciation is ˈzɛbrə or ˈziːbrə

Taxonomy and evolution

Zebras evolved among the Old World horses within the last 4 million years. Grevy's zebras (and perhaps also Mountain Zebras) are with asses and donkeys in a separate lineage from the other zebra lineages. This means either that striped equids evolved more than once, or that common ancestors of zebras and asses were striped and only zebras retained the stripes. Extensive stripes are posited to have been of little use to equids that live in low densities in deserts (like asses and some horses) or ones that live in colder climates with shaggy coats and annual shading (like some horses).

Fossils of an ancient equid were discovered in the Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument near Hagerman, Idaho, contains the largest concentration of Hagerman Horse fossils in North America. The fossil horses for which the Monument is famous have been found in only one locale in the northern portion of the Monument called the Hagerman Horse Quarry...

 in Hagerman, Idaho
Hagerman, Idaho
Hagerman is a town in Gooding County, Idaho, United States. The population was 768 at the 2007 census.-Geography:Hagerman is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , all of it land....

. It was named the Hagerman horse
Hagerman Horse
The Hagerman horse , also called the Hagerman zebra or the American zebra, was a North American species of equid from the Pliocene period and the Pleistocene period. It was one of the oldest horses of the genus Equus. Discovered in 1928 in Hagerman, Idaho, it is believed to have been like the...

 with a scientific name of Equus simplicidens. It is believed to have been similar to the Grevy's zebra. The animals had stocky zebra-like bodies and short, narrow, donkey-like skulls. Grevy's zebra also has a donkey-like skull. The Hagerman horse is also called the American zebra or Hagerman zebra.

Classification

There are three extant species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. Collectively, two of the species have eight subspecies
Subspecies
Subspecies in biological classification, is either a taxonomic rank subordinate to species, ora taxonomic unit in that rank . A subspecies cannot be recognized in isolation: a species will either be recognized as having no subspecies at all or two or more, never just one...

 (seven extant). Zebra populations are diverse, and the relationships between and the taxonomic
Taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 status of several of the subspecies are not well known.
  • Genus: Equus
    Equus (genus)
    Equus is a genus of animals in the family Equidae that includes horses, donkeys, and zebras. Within Equidae, Equus is the only extant genus. Like Equidae more broadly, Equus has numerous extinct species known only from fossils. This article deals primarily with the extant species.The term equine...

    • Subgenus: Hippotigris
      • Plains Zebra
        Plains Zebra
        The plains zebra , also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa...

        , Equus quagga
        • Quagga
          Quagga
          The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only...

          , Equus quagga quagga (extinct)
        • Burchell's Zebra
          Burchell's Zebra
          Burchell's Zebra is a southern subspecies of the Plains Zebra.-Range:Formerly Burchell's zebra ranged north of the Vaal/Orange river system, extending northwest via southern Botswana to Etosha and the Kaokoveld, southeast to Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal...

          , Equus quagga burchellii (includes Damara Zebra)
        • Grant's Zebra
          Grant's Zebra
          The Grant's Zebra is the smallest of six subspecies of the Plains Zebra.-Distribution:The distribution of this subspecies is in Zambia west of the Luangwa river and west to Kariba, Shaba Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north to the Kibanzao Plateau. In Tanzania north from...

          , Equus quagga boehmi
        • Selous' Zebra
          Selous' Zebra
          The Selous' Zebra, is one of the six subspecies of the Plains Zebra, spread over southeastern Africa. It is spread mostly in Mozambique, but nowadays it is endangered...

          , Equus quagga borensis
        • Chapman's Zebra
          Chapman's Zebra
          Chapman's Zebra is a subspecies of Plains Zebra.They, like their relatives, are native to the savannah of north-east South Africa, north to Zimbabwe, west into Botswana, the Caprivi Strip in Namibia, and southern Angola. The Chapman's zebra eats mainly grass and occasionally shrubs...

          , Equus quagga chapmani
        • Crawshay's Zebra
          Crawshay's Zebra
          The Crawshay's zebra is a subspecies of the plains zebra. It is native to eastern Zambia, Malawi, and northern Mozambique. Crawshay's zebras can be distinguished from other subspecies of plains zebras in that its lower incisors lack an infundibulum....

          , Equus quagga crawshayi
      • Mountain Zebra
        Mountain Zebra
        The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

        , Equus zebra
        • Cape Mountain Zebra
          Cape Mountain Zebra
          Cape mountain zebra, Equus zebra zebra, is a subspecies of the Mountain zebra found in the Western and Eastern Cape in South Africa. They mainly eat grass but if little food is left they will eat bushes...

          , Equus zebra zebra
        • Hartmann's Mountain Zebra
          Hartmann's Mountain Zebra
          Hartmann's mountain zebra, Equus zebra hartmannae, is a subspecies of the mountain zebra found in far south-western Angola and western Namibia.Hartmann's mountain zebras prefer to live in small groups of 7-12 individuals...

          , Equus zebra hartmannae
    • Subgenus: Dolichohippus
      • Grévy's Zebra
        Grevy's Zebra
        The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

        , Equus grevyi


The plains zebra
Plains Zebra
The plains zebra , also known as the common zebra or Burchell's zebra, is the most common and geographically widespread species of zebra. It ranges from the south of Ethiopia through East Africa to as far south as Angola and eastern South Africa...

 (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli) is the most common, and has or had about twelve subspecies distributed across much of southern and eastern Africa. It, or particular subspecies of it, have also been known as the common zebra, the dauw, Burchell's Zebra
Burchell's Zebra
Burchell's Zebra is a southern subspecies of the Plains Zebra.-Range:Formerly Burchell's zebra ranged north of the Vaal/Orange river system, extending northwest via southern Botswana to Etosha and the Kaokoveld, southeast to Swaziland and Kwazulu-Natal...

 (actually the subspecies Equus quagga burchellii), Chapman's zebra, Wahlberg
Johan August Wahlberg
Johan August Wahlberg was a Swedish naturalist and explorer.Wahlberg started studying chemistry at the University of Uppsala in 1829, and later forestry, agronomy and natural science, graduating from the Institute of Forestry in 1834...

's zebra, Selous
Frederick Selous
Frederick Courteney Selous DSO was a British explorer, officer, hunter, and conservationist, famous for his exploits in south and east of Africa. His real-life adventures inspired Sir H. Rider Haggard to create the fictional Allan Quatermain character. Selous was also a good friend of Theodore...

' zebra, Grant's zebra
Grant's Zebra
The Grant's Zebra is the smallest of six subspecies of the Plains Zebra.-Distribution:The distribution of this subspecies is in Zambia west of the Luangwa river and west to Kariba, Shaba Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, north to the Kibanzao Plateau. In Tanzania north from...

, Boehm's zebra and the quagga
Quagga
The quagga is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only...

 (another extinct
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 subspecies, Equus quagga quagga).

The mountain zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

 (Equus zebra) of southwest Africa tends to have a sleek coat with a white belly and narrower stripes than the plains Zebra. It has two subspecies and is classified as vulnerable.

Grévy's Zebra
Grevy's Zebra
The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

 (Equus grevyi) is the largest type, with a long, narrow head, making it appear rather mule
Mule
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species, with different numbers of chromosomes. Of the two F1 hybrids between these two species, a mule is easier to obtain than a hinny...

-like. It is an inhabitant of the semiarid grassland
Grassland
Grasslands are areas where the vegetation is dominated by grasses and other herbaceous plants . However, sedge and rush families can also be found. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica...

s of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 and northern Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

. Grévy's zebra is the rarest species, and is classified as endangered.

Although zebra species may have overlapping ranges, they do not interbreed. This held true even when the quagga and Burchell's race of plains zebra shared the same area. In captivity, plains zebras have been crossed with mountain zebras. The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap
Dewlap
A dewlap is a longitudinal flap of skin that hangs beneath the lower jaw or neck of many vertebrates. While the term is usually used in this specific context, it can also be used to include other structures occurring in the same body area with a similar aspect, such as those caused by a double...

 and resembled the plains zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern. Attempts to breed a Grévy's zebra stallion to mountain zebra mares resulted in a high rate of miscarriage. In captivity, crosses between zebras and other (non-zebra) equines have produced several distinct hybrids, including the zebroid
Zebroid
A zebroid is the offspring of any cross between a zebra and any other equine: essentially, a zebra hybrid. In most cases, the sire is a zebra stallion. Offspring of a donkey sire and zebra dam, called a zebra hinny, or donkra, do exist but are rare. Zebroids have been bred since the 19th century...

, zeedonk, zony, and zorse. In certain regions of Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, plains zebras and Grévy's Zebra coexist, and fertile hybrids occur.

Size and weight

The common plains zebra is about 50–52 inches (12.2-13 hands, 1.3 m) at the shoulder with a body ranging from 6–8.5 feet (2–2.6 m) long with an 18-inch (0.5 m) tail. It can weigh up to 770 pounds (350 kg), males being slightly bigger than females. Grévy's Zebra
Grevy's Zebra
The Grévy's zebra , also known as the Imperial zebra, is the largest extant wild equid and one of three species of zebra, the other two being the plains zebra and the mountain zebra. Named after Jules Grévy, it is the sole extant member of the subgenus Dolichohippus. The Grévy's zebra is found in...

 is considerably larger, while the mountain zebra
Mountain Zebra
The Mountain Zebra, Equus zebra, is a threatened species of equid native to south-western Angola, Namibia and South Africa. It has two subspecies, the Cape Mountain Zebra and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra , though it has been suggested these should be considered separate species.-Taxonomy:In 2004,...

 is somewhat smaller.

Stripes

It was previously believed that zebras were white animals with black stripes, since some zebras have white underbellies. Embryological evidence, however, shows that the animal's background color is black and the white stripes and bellies are additions.
The stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters, and main body, with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animal. The "zebra crossing
Zebra crossing
A zebra crossing is a type of pedestrian crossing used in many places around the world. Its distinguishing feature is alternating dark and light stripes on the road surface, from which it derives its name. A zebra crossing typically gives extra rights of way to pedestrians.The use of zebra...

" is named after the zebra's black and white stripes.

A wide variety of hypotheses have been proposed to account for the evolution of the striking stripes of zebras. The more traditional of these (1 & 2, below) relate to camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

.

1. The vertical
Vertical direction
In astronomy, geography, geometry and related sciences and contexts, a direction passing by a given point is said to be vertical if it is locally aligned with the gradient of the gravity field, i.e., with the direction of the gravitational force at that point...

 striping may help the zebra hide in grass. While seeming absurd at first glance, considering that grass is neither white nor black, it is supposed to be effective against the zebra's main predator, the lion
Lion
The lion is one of the four big cats in the genus Panthera, and a member of the family Felidae. With some males exceeding 250 kg in weight, it is the second-largest living cat after the tiger...

, which is color blind. In addition, even at moderate distances, the striking striping merges to an apparent grey.

2. Another hypothesis is that since zebras are herd animals, the stripes may help to confuse predators—a number of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large animal, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out any single zebra to attack.

3. It has been suggested that the stripes serve as visual cues and identification. Although each striping pattern is unique to each individual, it is not known whether zebras can recognize one another by their stripes.

4. One theory suggested by an innovative experiment posits that the disruptive colouration is an effective means of confusing the visual system of the blood-sucking tsetse fly
Tsetse fly
Tsetse , sometimes spelled tzetze and also known as tik-tik flies, are large biting flies that inhabit much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts. They live by feeding on the blood of vertebrate animals and are the primary biological vectors of trypanosomes, which...

.

5. Alternative theories include that the stripes coincide with fat patterning beneath the skin, serving as a thermo-regulatory mechanism for the zebra, or that wounds sustained disrupt the striping pattern to clearly indicate the fitness of the animal to potential mates.

Gaits

Like horses, zebras walk, trot, canter and gallop. They are generally slower than horses, but their great stamina helps them outpace predators. When chased, a zebra will zig-zag from side to side, making it more difficult for the predator. When cornered, the zebra will rear up and kick or bite its attacker.

Senses

Zebras have excellent eyesight. It is believed that they can see in color. Like most ungulates, the zebra has its eyes on the sides of its head, giving it a wide field of view. Zebras also have night vision
Night vision
Night vision is the ability to see in low light conditions. Whether by biological or technological means, night vision is made possible by a combination of two approaches: sufficient spectral range, and sufficient intensity range...

, although not as advanced as that of most of their predators.

Zebras have excellent hearing, and tend to have larger, rounder ears than horses. Like horses and other ungulates, zebra can turn their ears in almost any direction. In addition to eyesight and hearing, zebras have an acute sense of smell and taste.

Harems

Like most members of the horse family, zebras are highly social. Their social structure, however, depends on the species. Mountain zebras and plains zebras live in groups, known as 'harems', consisting of one stallion with up to six mares and their foals. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion. When attacked by packs of hyena
Hyena
Hyenas or Hyaenas are the animals of the family Hyaenidae of suborder feliforms of the Carnivora. It is the fourth smallest biological family in the Carnivora , and one of the smallest in the mammalia...

s or wild dogs
African Wild Dog
Lycaon pictus is a large canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and lightly wooded areas. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf...

 a zebra group will huddle together with the foals in the middle while the stallion tries to ward them off.

Unlike the other zebra species, Grevy's zebras do not have permanent social bonds. A group of these zebras rarely stays together for more than a few months. The foals stay with their mothers, while adult males live alone. Like the other two zebra species, bachelor male zebras will organize in groups.

Like horses, zebras sleep standing up, and only sleep when neighbors are around to warn them of predators.

Communication

Zebras communicate with each other with high pitched barks and whinnying. Grevy's zebras make mule-like brays. A zebra's ears signify its mood. When a zebra is in a calm, tense or friendly mood, its ears stand erect. When it is frightened, its ears are pushed forward. When angry, the ears are pulled backward. When surveying an area for predators, zebras will stand in an alert posture; with ears erect, head held high, and staring. When tense they will also snort. When a predator is spotted or sensed, a zebra will bark (or bray) loudly.

Food and foraging

Zebras feed almost entirely on grasses, but may occasionally eat shrubs, herbs, twigs, leaves and bark. Their digestive systems allow them to subsist on diets of lower nutritional quality than that necessary for other herbivores.

Reproduction

Female zebras mature earlier than the males, and a mare may have her first foal by the age of three. Males are not able to breed until the age of five or six. Mares may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. Like horses, zebras are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after they are born. A zebra foal is brown and white instead of black and white at birth.

Plains and mountain zebra foals are protected by their mothers, as well as the head stallion and the other mares in their group. Grevy's zebra foals have only their mother as a regular protector, since, as noted above, Grevy's zebra groups often disband after a few months.

Human interactions

Domestication

Attempts have been made to train zebras for riding, since they have better resistance than horses to African diseases. Most of these attempts failed, though, due to the zebra's more unpredictable nature and tendency to panic under stress. For this reason, zebra-mules or zebroid
Zebroid
A zebroid is the offspring of any cross between a zebra and any other equine: essentially, a zebra hybrid. In most cases, the sire is a zebra stallion. Offspring of a donkey sire and zebra dam, called a zebra hinny, or donkra, do exist but are rare. Zebroids have been bred since the 19th century...

s (crosses between any species of zebra and a horse, pony, donkey or ass) are preferred over purebred zebras.

In England, the zoological collector Lord Rothschild
Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
Lionel Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, Baron de Rothschild FRS , a scion of the Rothschild family, was a British banker, politician, and zoologist.-Biography:...

 frequently used zebras to draw a carriage. In 1907, Rosendo Ribeiro, the first doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, used a riding zebra for house calls. In the mid-19th century, Governor George Grey
George Grey
George Grey may refer to:*Sir George Grey, 2nd Baronet , British politician*George Grey, 2nd Earl of Kent *Sir George Grey , Governor of Cape Colony, South Australia and New Zealand...

 imported zebras to New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

 from his previous posting in South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

, and used them to pull his carriage on his privately owned Kawau Island
Kawau Island
Kawau Island is an island in the Hauraki Gulf, close to the north-eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. At its closest point it lies off the coast of the North Auckland Peninsula, just south of Tawharanui Peninsula, and about by sea journey from Sandspit Wharf, and shelters Kawau Bay...

.
Captain Horace Hayes, in "Points of the Horse" (circa 1893), compared the usefulness of different zebra species. In 1891, Hayes broke a mature, intact mountain zebra stallion to ride in two days time, and the animal was quiet enough for his wife to ride and be photographed upon. He found the Burchell's zebra easy to break, and considered it ideal for domestication, as it was immune to the bite of the tsetse fly
Tsetse fly
Tsetse , sometimes spelled tzetze and also known as tik-tik flies, are large biting flies that inhabit much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts. They live by feeding on the blood of vertebrate animals and are the primary biological vectors of trypanosomes, which...

. He considered the quagga (now extinct) well-suited to domestication due to being easy to train to saddle and harness.

Conservation

Modern man has had great impact on the zebra population. Zebras were, and still are, hunted for their skins, and for meat. They also compete with livestock for forage, and sometimes culled.

The Cape mountain zebra was hunted to near extinction, with less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. The population has increased to about 700 due to conservation efforts, though. Both mountain zebra subspecies are currently protected in national parks, but are still endangered.
The Grevy's zebra is also endangered. Hunting and competition from livestock have greatly decreased their population. Because of the population's small size, environmental hazards, such as drought, are capable of affecting the entire species. Plains zebras are much more numerous and have a healthy population. Nevertheless, they too have been reduced by hunting and loss of habitat to farming. One subspecies, the quagga, is now extinct.

Cultural depictions

Zebras have been the subject of African folk tales which tell how they got their stripes. According to a Bushmen
Bushmen
The indigenous people of Southern Africa, whose territory spans most areas of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, and Angola, are variously referred to as Bushmen, San, Sho, Barwa, Kung, or Khwe...

 folk tale of Namibia
Namibia
Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia , is a country in southern Africa whose western border is the Atlantic Ocean. It shares land borders with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. It gained independence from South Africa on 21 March...

, the zebra was once all white, but acquired its black stripes after a fight with a baboon
Baboon
Baboons are African and Arabian Old World monkeys belonging to the genus Papio, part of the subfamily Cercopithecinae. There are five species, which are some of the largest non-hominoid members of the primate order; only the mandrill and the drill are larger...

 over a waterhole. After kicking the baboon so hard, the zebra lost his balance and tripped over a fire, and the fire sticks left scorch marks all over his white coat. In the film Fantasia
Fantasia (film)
Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. The third feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are...

, two centaur
Centaur
In Greek mythology, a centaur or hippocentaur is a member of a composite race of creatures, part human and part horse...

s are depicted being half human and half zebra, instead of the typical half human and half horse.
Zebra are a popular subject in art. The fourth Mughal
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 emperor Jahangir
Jahangir
Jahangir was the ruler of the Mughal Empire from 1605 until his death. The name Jahangir is from Persian جهانگیر,meaning "Conqueror of the World"...

 (r.1605-24), commissioned a painting of the zebra, which was completed by Ustad Mansur
Ustad Mansur
Ustad Mansur was a seventeenth century Mughal painter and court artist of Jehangir who specialised in depicting plants and animals.-Life and works:...

. Zebra stripes are also a popular style for furniture, carpets and fashion.

When depicted in movies and cartoons, zebras are most often miscellaneous characters, but have had some starring roles, notably in Madagascar
Madagascar (2005 film)
Madagascar is a 2005 computer-animated film produced by DreamWorks Animation, and released in movie theaters on May 27, 2005. The film tells the story of four Central Park Zoo animals who have spent their lives in blissful captivity and are unexpectedly shipped back to Africa, getting shipwrecked...

 and Racing Stripes
Racing Stripes
Racing Stripes is a 2005 comedy film directed by Frederik Du Chau, the director of Quest for Camelot. Although set in Kentucky, the movie was filmed in Pietermaritzburg and Nottingham Road, South Africa.-Plot:...

. Zebras also serve as mascots and symbols for products and corporations, notably Zebra Technologies
Zebra Technologies
Zebra Technologies is a manufacturer of thermal bar code label and receipt printers, RFID smart label printer/encoders, card and kiosk printers, based in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Zebra has products in 100 countries around the world...

 and Fruit Stripe
Fruit Stripe
Fruit Stripe is an artificially and naturally flavored fruit chewing gum that is notorious for its strong but fleeting flavor. It is packaged in zebra-striped wrappers, and every stick now comes with one or more temporary tattoos. Three five-flavor packs are made: cherry, lemon, orange, mixed...

 gum. Zebras are featured on the coat of arms of Botswana
Coat of arms of Botswana
The coat of arms of Botswana was adopted on January 25, 1966. The centre shield is supported by two zebras. The shape of the shield is that of traditional shields found in East Africa...

.

External links

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