FAQ’s About Zebras
Q)Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?
A) A zebra is black with white stripes. Zebras have dark skin and black ‘points’ which means the black is dominant. We are currently working with Stanford University on a research project to determine how the white and black striping is determined by the dna of the zebra!
Q) I’ve heard that zebras have ‘weak backs’ so they can’t be ridden. Is this true?
A) Not at all. Zebras are very, very strong, much stronger than horses. They have no problem carrying a person on their back. In the wild, they often carry lions on their backs and run with them as the lions try to kill them for food.
This is Zurprize, a Grant's gelding. He trained beautifully using Friendship Training and the four techniques of zebra behavioral communication. We do not recommend zebra as pets. They are not horses with stripes.
Q) What do zebras eat?
A) Zebras eat grass or grass hay.
Q) Can zebras survive in cold and snow?
A) Yes, they can, BUT they do not get the same thickness of winter coat that horses will get, so it is important when it is cold and wet to have shelter for them to go into to keep warm. In very cold weather, a heated barn is even better. If there is a lot of rain, you must have shelter for your zebra. When it rains in Africa, the zebras begin their migration.
Q) How many kinds of zebras are there?
A) There are three species of zebra. The Grant’s, or Plains Zebra, the Grevy’s, and the Mountain Zebra. There are two subspecies of the Grant’s, which don’t have as much striping.
This is a Chapman's mare. The Chapman's have the same chromosome count as the Grant's. They are both of the Plains Zebras specie. The further south in Africa the zebras are, the more Chapman's are found. They do cross breed and interact with the Gran'ts zebras. They are actually considered a sub-specie of the Grant's. This is Chappy. She is the only Chapman's currently at the rescue.
This is Zanadu, a Grant's stallion at the Rescue. You will note that the Grant's have striping all the way down to their feet. The strlping pattern contains wide, contoured stripes. There is little to no shadow striping between the solid stripes. There is a dorsal stripe and a ventral stripe. The striping on the lower belly touches the ventral stripe. These zebras have the most horselike heads and ear size. They are the smallest of the three zebra species, ranging between 12 - 14 hands in size. They do have large, strong, quarter horse type bodies. Zanadu has excellent conformation. The numbers of Plain's zebras (Grant's and Chapman's) are decreasing by the thousands every year due to human infringement, including fences and roads through their migration routes. They are quite sedentary animals and only move (migrate) when weather and grazing demands it.
This is a Grevy's stallion. These are the largest of the zebra species. You will not the very large ears. The head is large also, like that of a mule. The striping is narrow, and quite vertical on the body. The striping does not go all the way to the bottom of the belly. This specie of zebra can mature to 15 hands. The Grevy's is endangered. There are less than 1,500 left in the wild, due to human interference. This specie does not 'herd' together in families. The stallions will maintain a territory with good grazing and entice mares to him. The Grevy's has a very loud call that sounds like a cross between a lion and a pig. It is very loud so that they can call females. A few females may stay together for the protection of their babies, and sometimes you will see a few young males, or bachelors, together..
Hartmann's Mountain Zebra. This is a young stallion, Zahara. At two and half years of age, we no longer go into his stall. He now acts like a stallion and is very dangerous, as he does not know his own strength. The Hartmann's striping pattern has both contoured striping over the hips and vertical striping on the barrel. They have both wide striping and narrow striping. Their heads are bigger than the Grant's, but smaller than the Grevey's. The ears are bigger than the Grant's but smaller than the Grevy's. They have a grid like pattern over their hips, on their croup. The striping does not reach the ventral stripe, but goes further around the belly than the Grevy's. They maintain a brown color on parts of their face their whole lives, unlike the Grant's and Grevy's. Their size is also between the Grant's and the Grevy's, from 13 hands to 14.3. Their call is more similar to the Grant's, but a trained ear, or another Hartmann's, can easily tell the difference.They have a dewlap on the front of their neck. That is a loose area of skin that hangs down and easily seen when their necks are level.
Q) Do all the species of the zebra act and sound the same?
A) No, each specie of zebra has a different type of social structure, and each specie sounds different.
Q) Can anyone have a zebra?
A) Two of the three species of zebra are endangered, so a special license is required for those. The Grant’s zebra is the more common and if you have the expertise to house and train a zebra, and your state and local laws allow it, then you could have one. However we don’t recommend zebras as ‘pets’ as they are not at all like horses in their behavior or thinking, and can be very dangerous.
Q) Is a bottle fed zebra more tractable, more easily trained than one that is not?
A) A bottle fed zebra WILL become very dangerous as it grows up. It will not have any respect for people and, in fact, will want to be above the person in the pecking order. Our skin cannot take what a biting zebra can dish out, nor can our bones take the power of a kicking zebra, and that is what a bottle fed zebra will do to try to get to the top of the pecking order.