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Grant's (Plains) Zebra

Equus quagga boehmi

Zebra Plains Gallery

About the Grant's (Plains) Zebra


Geographic Range:


Class: Mammalia               
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Species: quagga

The Grant’s (or Plain's) zebra has wide black stripes extending vertically around the belly and sides, mid-torso to legs. It has rounded ears, a black snout and a black tail. The zebra’s stripes help to camouflage it from its colorblind predators; Grant’s zebras will bunch together to prevent attackers from singling out one of their herd. The zebra communicates through high-pitched barking noises. It can run up to 40 miles per hour.

Grant's Zebra Facts

The Grant’s zebra’s snout and tail are black. Its body consists of wide black stripes, spread apart from each other and extending vertically around the belly and sides and mid-torso to legs. In fact, each individual Grant’s zebra has its own unique stripe pattern, just as humans have unique fingerprints.

Why stripes? There are a number of theories. The stripe pattern of a herd collectively helps to break up the outline of a single zebra, thus confusing potential predators. This pattern camouflages zebras from their colorblind predators. Stripes also help individual zebras recognize each other and may also help regulate body temperature or keep away flies.  Although most of us may think of the zebra as white-with-black-stripes, a case study at the Knoxville Zoo showed that, when shaved, the zebra’s skin is actually black.

Height: 3 ½ -5 feet at the shoulder
Length: 8 feet
Weight: 485 to 710 pounds
Males weigh 10 percent more than female.

In the wild a variety of plains grasses. Grant’s zebras are capable of surviving in areas with vegetation that’s low in nutrients. Because they trample on tall and less nutritional grasses, other grazers such as wildebeest can feed on the more nutritious shorter grasses. Zebras are extremely dependent on water, usually drinking at least once a day; they never wander far from a water source.

The zebra’s breeding season is January through March. Gestation is 12 months leading to a single foal. Between the ages of 1 to 3, females are ready to mate and males leave the group to form bachelor herds. At age 5, males form harems and a single male in each harem is the main zebra for reproduction. The dominant male will fight off challenging males by biting and kicking with both front and back legs. Once a dominant male is driven away, the new male assumes breeding rights to the harem.

Grant’s zebras share grazing areas with wildebeests and gazelles. When threatened, zebras stay close to one another to prevent predators from singling out one zebra from another. The zebra can run up to 40 miles per hour and communicates through high pitched, barking noises.

Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, eastern Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and Malawi. This zebra inhabits grasslands and savanna woodlands.

Median Life Expectancy: 
15.3 years

Lions, hyenas, leopards, cheetahs and African wild dogs.

Supporting Species Survival

Zoo New England participates in the Plains zebra Species Survival Plan. By sharing research and knowledge, participating institutions work together to establish guidelines that best ensure the health of captive populations, and with success, the survival of otherwise extinct species.