Zebras are Africa’s striped horses. Of the three zebra subspecies, the Grevy’s zebra is the largest, living in semi-arid grasslands in eastern Africa.
So, why the stripes? They serve as a kind of protection from predators! When zebras are grouped together, their stripes make it hard for a lion or leopard to pick out one zebra to chase. Different zebra species have different types of stripes, from narrow to wide, and each zebra has its unique stripe pattern—like human fingerprints. Grevy’s zebras have very narrow stripes and one wide, black stripe running down the length of their back. Zebras are attracted to black-and-white stripes. Even if stripes are painted on a wall, a zebra will tend to go stand next to it!
The wild Grevy’s zebra populations has been ravaged by anthrax outbreaks, making the species critically endangered. San Diego Zoo Global is a member of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust, and our researchers are working with other conservation groups to help preserve these black-and-white equids.