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Zebra

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Zebra
Equus quagga.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species

Subgenus: Hippotigris ,

  • E. quagga (Plains zebra)
  • E. quagga quagga (Quagga - extinct)
  • E. quagga burchellii (Burchell's zebra, includes Damara Zebra)
  • E. quagga boehmi (Grant's Zebra)
  • E. quagga borensis (Selous' zebra)
  • E. quagga chapmani (Chapman's zebra)
  • E. quagga crawshayi (Crawshay's zebra)
  • E. zebra (Mountain zebra)
  • E. zebra zebra (Cape mountain zebra)
  • E. zebra hartmannae (Hartman's mountain zebra)

Subgenus: Dolichohippus

  • E. grevyi (Grévy's zebra)[1]
Mountain Hartman Zebra.jpg
Hartman's Mountain Zebra

Zebra are species of wild horse in the genus Eqqus that are best known for their black and white stripes. They are scientifically known as the Eqqus quagga (Plains zebra), the Eqqus zebra (Mountain zebra) and the Eqqus grevyi (Grevy's zebra). They are found in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, and the Grevy's zebra and mountain zebra are endangered species. All zebras have a unique pattern of stripes, [2] [3] and are generally social animals and are usually found in herds.[4] It is believed that the stripes serve as camouflage while in herds by confusing predators through motion dazzle, and that the unique patterns help to identify each other.

Body Design

Detailed photo of the Grevy's Zebra displaying the stripes all over the zebra's body

The body design of a zebra is known to be covered in a pattern of black and white stripes, which are unique to each zebra.[5] Some think that the reason every zebra's stripe pattern is different is so that the other zebras can identify each other in the herd. A zebra's size varies on the species, but most range between 3 and a half feet to 5 feet at shoulder height and range between 7 and 9 feet in length. The largest species of zebra is the Grevy's Zebra and it's easily identifiable by its large and rounded ears. The zebra's body shape is symmetrical and is covered in stripes almost everywhere except the underbelly and inner thighs. [6] Zebras have large ears and eyes which increases their senses of hearing and sight. The zebra can rotate its own ear to hear and locate sounds without having to move their body towards the sound. The eyes of the zebra give it a wider sense of vision because they are set further back in the zebra's skull. With this optimum sight and hearing zebras can find predators easier, and can give themselves more time to escape. [6] The zebra has long slender legs with narrow hooves that allow the zebra to reach speeds of 25 mph. [7]

The skin of a zebra is black and is covered by white hairs on top that comprises the stripes. Unlike horses, the mane of a zebra goes straight up and are also striped like the rest of the body. Zebras have long necks and heads which make it easier to feed on grass from the ground. [7] Zebras also have matching incisors to aid in tearing tough grasses. [6]

Life Cycle

Young Newborn Zebra (Foal)

Zebras reproduce sexually, and are born well developed. Newborns are so developed that they can hear and can walk or run almost run instantly after birth. They follow their dams (mothers) in the first few weeks of their life. The dam provides the newborn guidance and sustenance despite their independent appearance. The foal (newborn zebra) is capable of following the herd on its own with little guidance. After birth not all zebras stay in the same herd for life. The dam nurses the foal for up to a year and once they finish, the foal will leave the dam's side and join the rest of the herd. [8] Once they reach about 22 months old they may choose themselves to leave the herd. After leaving their herd, the zebra finds other zebras that also left their herds of a similar age. When the zebra reaches the age of sexual maturity is when they fall into more solid herds. [9] Male zebras usually reach sexual maturity at age three and a half years od but usually don't breed until they are around five years old. Female zebras reach sexual maturity between the ages of three and six. She will typically give birth once every three years and is reproductively active until her 24th year. Zebras can live up to 30 years in the wild, mainly because old age makes an easy target for predators.[8]

Ecology

Range Map of the Plains Zebra

Most zebras are found in grasslands of in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Zebras are very social animals and they spend most of their time in herds. Zebras are grazing herbivores and they eat mostly grasses. When they graze, you will usually see most of the zebras heads down eating with one on the look out for predators.[2] The zebra, like most animals have natural predators like lions, spotted hyenas, wild dogs, cheetahs and leopards. The zebra's key defense against attack is its speed and ability to kick with a massive amount of power. [4]

Threats

The zebras compete with the other livestock because they both have to find areas to feed from. The decrease in food can be harmful to the zebras. They are also threatened by hunters and habitat changes for farming. Both the Grevy’s zebra and the mountain zebra are listed as endangered species, because the zebras are natural prey of lions, spotted hyenas and more predators. The range of the Grevy's zebra has decreased so significantly that any change in it's habitat such as a drought could affect the entire species. [2]

Video

Awesome Zebra Facts {{#ev:youtube|XysryjDwBuI}}

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Equus zebra zebra WikiSpecies. Web. Last Update 3 April 2009 Author Uknown.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Introductio to Zebras AfricaGuide. Web. Last accessed January 11 2015 Author Unknown.
  3. Zebra National Geographic. Web. Last access January 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Discover various interesting zebra facts Africa Wildlife Detective. Web. Last accessed January 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  5. Basic Facts About Zebras Defenders of Wildlife. Web. Date of last access December 14 2014. Author Unknown
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Zebra Anatomy Animal Corner. Web. Date of last update December 14 2014. Author Unknown
  7. 7.0 7.1 Zebra A-Z Animals. Web. Date of last access December 14 2014. Author Unknown
  8. 8.0 8.1 Zebra Zoo Atlanta. Web. Last accessed January 11, 2015 Author Unknown.
  9. Foden, Simon. The Life Cycle of a Zebra After It Is Born Animals Pawntion. Web. Last accessed January 10, 2015 Author Unknown.