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The last quagga died in a zoo in [source: The International Museum of the Horse ]. Scientists have retrieved DNA from preserved quagga pelts, and efforts are underway to revive the subspecies in South Africa [source: Aromatherapy Shows Promise for Stressed Horses.

20 things you didn't know about zebras | MNN - Mother Nature Network

Are zebras black with white stripes or white with black stripes? What Color Is a Zebra? Grevy's zebras have narrower stripes and black stripes running down their spines. These are the most populous zebra species, found in northern Kenya. Their broader stripes fade to gray, called shadow striping , as they move down the body.

Their legs feature a lot of white as well. Grevy's zebras Equus greyvi: These zebras have the largest build and are found in northern Kenya as well.

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They have narrower stripes with definitive black stripes slicing down the middle of their backs and white bellies. It has two subspecies and is classified as vulnerable. It is an inhabitant of the semi-arid grasslands of Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Although zebra species may have overlapping ranges, they do not interbreed. In captivity, plains zebras have been crossed with mountain zebras.

The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap and resembled the plains zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern. In captivity, crosses between zebras and other non-zebra equines have produced several distinct hybrids , including the zebroid , zeedonk, zony, and zorse. The Hagerman horse Equus simplicidens is sometimes referred to as the American zebra due to perceived similarities to the plains zebra, and sometimes depicted as striped. However, consensus appears to be that it wasn't particularly closely related to either Hippotigiris nor Dolichohippus , nor is there unambiguous evidence that it had stripes.


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The common plains zebra is about 1. 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.

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 and 2, below relate to camouflage. Zebras have four gaits: They are generally slower than horses, but their great stamina helps them outrun predators. When chased, a zebra will zig-zag from side to side, making it more difficult for the predator to attack. When cornered, the zebra will rear up and kick or bite its attacker.

Zebras have excellent eyesight. Like most ungulates , the zebra's eyes are on the sides of its head, giving it a wide field of view. Zebras also have night vision , although not as advanced as that of most of their predators. Zebras have excellent hearing and have larger, rounder ears than horses; like other ungulates, zebras can turn their ears in almost any direction. In addition to superb eyesight and hearing, zebras also have acute senses of smell and taste.

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Being an equid, zebras are subject to many of the same common infections and diseases of the domestic horse. Horses were first reported in to be susceptible and even a small amount of the leaves can be toxic to ponies. In , a zebra was reported to be infected with a nematode, halicephalobus , usually associated with decaying plant material.

Like most members of the horse family, zebras are highly social.


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

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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. Zebras communicate with each other with high-pitched barks and whinnying. 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.


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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. 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.

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. A zonkey is a cross between a zebra and a what? We have been cross-breeding zebras with other equines since at least the 19th century; the resulting "zebroids" come in a number of newfangled names, from zedonk, zorse and zebra mule to zonkey pictured above and zebrule.

A cornered zebra rears, kicks and bites in defense. There have been numerous recorded cases of zebras killing lions, generally by a swift kick to the head that at the very least breaks the jaw, resulting in the cat's eventual starvation. Humans have certainly tried, but zebras, in general, have been resistant to our domestication efforts.

Lionel Rothschild turned heads with his trained zebras. While eccentric zoologist Lionel Walter Rothschild , 2nd Baron Rothschild, was able to train zebras to draw his carriage through London pictured above in , he knew that zebras would be unsuitable for riding and further domestication. During the zebras' annual migration in search of food and water, it is the responsibility of the oldest male in the family to ensure that the group never strays too far from water.

Burchell's zebra are listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, though their numbers have gone down significantly in the last century. Both the Grevy's zebra and the Equus zebra are listed as endangered.