|Species|| E. grevyi|
|Subspecies|| E. zebra zebra|
E. quagga quagga
Zebras are several members of the horse family Equidae which inhabit the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, and immediately recognizable for their striking black-and-white striped hides.
There are three species and two sub-species of zebra:
- Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi), of Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya; found in arid, sparsely-wooded land;
- Plains, or Burchell's zebra, also known as bonte quagga (Equus quagga), of the plains of eastern and southern Africa
- Mountain zebra (Equus zebra), of western South Africa and Namibia;
- Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra zebra) of South Africa;
- Quagga (Equus quagga quagga), formerly of southern Africa, now extinct.
The largest species, Grevy’s zebra stands approximately 55 inches at the shoulder and weighs up to 990 pounds, about the same size as a typical domestic horse. The remaining zebras average just over 4 feet and weigh under 750 pounds. All have stiff, erect manes and short tails.
The stripes differ among the species as well. The plains and mountain zebras share a bold, wide pattern, with the stripes in the plains zebra wrapping around the entire body; in the remaining species the belly is clear of stripes. In the Grevy's zebra the stripe pattern consists of fine lines while in the extinct quagga the body of the animal was predominantly brown, the stripes confined only to the head, neck, and shoulders.
Like horses, zebras band together in small-to-large herds led by a stallion. Due to the inefficient nature of their digestive system, zebras spend nearly half their time feeding. All zebras have keen hearing and good eyesight, and the plains zebra usually mixes with other animals such as wildebeests, antelope, and cape buffalo to further protect themselves from predators. Lions, leopards, hyenas, and hunting dogs prey upon them on the plains, and when crossing rivers during their migrations they are preyed upon by crocodiles.
Both the mountain and Grevy's zebras are endangered due to human hunting and the altering of habitats for agricultural use; both species currently number less than 10,000 each. The quagga was extensively hunted until becoming extinct in the 1880's.
A hybrid animal known as a “zebroid” (horse-zebra) has been successfully used as a draft animal in South Africa, and like the more familiar mule, it is sterile.