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Zebra is a striped member of the horse family



Zebra is a striped member of the horse family.
There are three species--the common zebra,
Grevy's zebra, and the mountain zebra. They live
in herds in the deserts and grasslands of eastern
and southern Africa.


A zebra has alternating white and black or dark
brown stripes. Each of the three species of zebras
has a distinctive stripe pattern. In addition,
much like fingerprints in human beings, no
individual zebra's stripes are identical to those of
another zebra. The stripes may help to keep
herds of zebras together. Experiments have
shown that from birth zebras are attracted to
objects with stripes. Zebras with abnormal stripe
patterns are usually not allowed in the herd and
seldom survive.


A zebra eats grass. It may also eat bark, leaves,
buds, fruits, and roots. A zebra spends most of its
time eating.


The main enemies of zebras include lions,
hyenas, leopards, and cheetahs. Zebras protect
themselves from predators by keeping together in
the herd. At least one member of a herd remains
alert to danger at all times. A zebra's large ears
rotate to locate sounds, and its night vision is as
good as an owl's. If attacked, a zebra usually tries
to run away. Zebras can run at speeds of up to 40
miles (65 kilometers) per hour. Zebras may live
up to 22 years in the wild.


A zebra herd may range in size from a few
individuals to several hundred. Most herds
include smaller groups that consist of a male,
several females, and their young. Young males
often form herds with no females.
Although zebras seldom fight, competition among
males for a particular female during the breeding
season may become intense and involve pushing,
biting, and kicking. Females become sexually
mature at the age of 3 and may reproduce
throughout the rest of their life. Most males
begin mating at about 5 years of age.


The female zebra carries a single young, called a
foal, inside her body for about a year before
giving birth. A newborn foal weighs 70 to 80
pounds (32 to 36 kilograms). It can stand within
an hour after birth. In a few days, the young
zebra begins eating grass. It may gain up to 1
pound (0.45 kilograms) a day for the next two


Zebras face an uncertain future in the wild. They
must compete with ranchers and farmers for
grazing land and scarce water resources. Many
zebras have been killed for their meat and their
hides. Only the common zebra is still numerous.
Both Grevy's zebra and the mountain zebra are
endangered. A fourth kind of zebra, the quagga,
became extinct in the late 1800's.


Scientific classification. Zebras belong to the
genus Equus in the horse family, Equidae. The
scientific name for the common zebra is Equus
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