Plains zebra in exhibit
Scientific Name
Equus quagga
Geographic Range
Eastern and southern sub-Saharan Africa
Grass (less frequent: leaves)
Plains zebra in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Near Threatened Endangered Status Graph - Near Threatened

About This Animal

Plains zebras are the most common types of zebras. They can be up to 5 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 990 pounds. Like all zebras, they are covered with black and white stripes; no two zebras have exactly the same pattern. Researchers are still not certain what the benefit of stripes are, but some believe they are a form of camouflage, while others speculate the stripes defend against insects that recognize only large areas of solid-colored fur. Scientists recognize six subspecies of plains zebras.

Plains zebras are social and live in family groups with one stallion, multiple mares, and juvenile offspring. Each group has its own home range but may join larger herds year-round. These zebras may migrate long distances in search of resources, but their migration patterns change as their environment demands. Some of these zebras take part in the great Serengeti migration, one of the largest animal migration movements in the world.

These zebras have a gestation period of at least 361 days and a median life expectancy of 16.9 years.

Plains zebras live in almost all of Africa’s habitat types, although they are missing from rainforest, deserts, dune forests, and Cape Province areas with heavy schlerophyllus vegetation. Their populations are decreasing due to demand for their meat and skins, along with restriction of habitat by man-made barriers.

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