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

More Information

Plains zebras average 3.5–5 feet and may weigh up to 990 pounds. They have distinct black and white stripes. They live in family groups consisting of a stallion, mares, and their juvenile offspring. Groups have their own home ranges but may join large herds year-round. These zebras are heavy migrators, traveling long distances based on resource abundance. Different populations travel various distances depending on the part of Africa they live in. Some take part in the Serengeti migration, one of the largest animal movements in the world.

Plains zebras live in nearly all habitat types in Africa, although they are missing from rainforests, deserts and dune forests. Their populations are decreasing due to demand for their meat and skin, along with man-made barriers that disrupt migration.

Did You Know?

  • Zebra coats are as unique as fingerprints. Each of the three zebra species has its own general pattern, and each individual has its own pattern.
  • It remains unclear what the benefits of stripes are. Some scientists suggest they are a form of camouflage, making it difficult for predators to distinguish individuals in a herd, or distorting distance at dawn and dusk. Others believe the stripes protect against insects that recognize only large areas of a single fur color, or that they act as a natural sunscreen.
  • Plains zebras, also known as common zebras or Burchell’s zebra, are the most numerous species of zebra, with six subspecies.


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