winter CLOSURE

The Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche (Haute-Touche Animal Reserve) will reopen on April 3, 2021.

Back to top
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin

Grant's zebra

The Grant's zebra, Equus quagga boehmi, is the smallest of the six subspecies of plains zebra and is the most common.

Profile

Class, order & family :

Mammalia, Perissodactyla, Equidae

Genus :

Equus

Species :

quagga

Subspecies :

boehmii

Lifespan :

40 years (20 to 30 years in the wild)

Height and weight :

1 m at the shoulder; 140 kg at the most

Gestation :

12 months, one baby

Natural habitat :

Savannahs, bushy plains

Diet :

grasses

Native region :

Eastern and southern Africa

IUCN status: 

NT near threatened

Way of life

Zebras live in harems made up of a stallion who provides security by staying at the rear, ready to intervene upon the approach of a predator or a rival, and several females including an alpha, often the eldest one, who leads the group and the young. At around 3 years of age, males join the other singles. Social bonds are strengthened by mutual grooming, which is performed on the neck and back using the tips of the teeth. Females give birth in the middle of the herd, under the protection of the male. The newborn should be ready to get up after a few hours, ready to flee should a predator approach.

Zebras, like a great deal of non-ruminant herbivores who don’t easily digest the plants that they consume, spend up to 70% of their time eating! They also have to drink every day and several herds can be found around waterholes, often along with other species.

Distinguishing features

The zebra is black at the foetal stage. The white stripes appear as it develops. Young zebras have a longer and thicker reddish-brown coat. The width of the stripes varies depending on the species. For example, the Grévy's zebra has thin stripes which don’t reach down as far as the stomach, while the stripes on the plains zebras, including the Grant's zebra, join up under the stomach. The mane, which is also striped, is made up of short straight hairs on the head and neck.

With eyes on either side of their head, the zebra has a wide field of vision, which helps it to spot predators and alert the rest of the herd.

Anecdote

Several theories attempt to explain why zebras have stripes: they serve as a “barcode” enabling them to recognise each other, or an “optical illusion” to disorient predators, making it difficult for them to distinguish individuals amongst the mass, or as a “repellent” to ward off horseflies and tsetse flies which are usually attracted by polarised light reflected horizontally from a dark-coloured coat, as the white bands would reflect the light in all directions and confuse the biting insects.

Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin
Zèbres de Grant © MNHN - F-G Grandin