A zebra is a kind of horse

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Plains zebra (Equus quagga),

Mountain zebra (Equus zebra) and

Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi)

Genus: Equus horses
Family: Equidae
Order: Perissodactyla - odd ungulate

Once again, following the tried and tested method, I took advice from Eugen Roth. There I heard:

The zebra is from head to tail
neither horse nor donkey whole


The Goethe word would be exaggerated:
"What you have in black and white,
you can safely carry it home "
That would be rejected by the zebra.
Because it is, if not unfair,
too heavy to be carried home.

No, we didn't have to carry the two zebras "Kuwait" and "Oman". In the colorful elephant transporter, the Krone Circus brought us the exotic gift right in front of the stable door. So there they were, the "horses in pajamas".



Accustomed to constant change from circus life, they inspected the new surroundings without hesitation. Only our horses were horrified. Such strange equidae seemed very suspicious to them.
We know our way around horses. We are also familiar with donkeys as housemates. So what the heck! The striped members of the horse family will have a good time in our society.

Of course we wanted to know exactly. So all "antennas" were extended and observed. Every movement was registered. Comparisons were necessary. We avoided any hectic and stalked each other step by step.
They patiently let themselves be petted, accepted treats and did not mind being cleaned.
Their neighing was so very different from that of the horses and donkeys.
But - and there was a clear difference: They categorically rejected any coercion.
Actually quite clear: they are just wild animals. Wild animals whose instinct has had to preserve and protect life for many, many generations.
Kuwait and Oman tolerate people in their vicinity. After all, he keeps adding food. Most of the time he has delicacies in his pocket. They are happy with social skin care at the right time too.
They feel good in the large paddock. When they are not watching the horses in the neighborhood, they come on call.
But as soon as someone wants to ask for something that they do not understand or do not want at all, they clearly demonstrate their displeasure. But hello! They are very nimble, agile and clearly show that they have sensitive weapons in their mouths. Everything is understandable, but not entirely unproblematic with pets.
How, please, can hooves be cared for, injuries treated or veterinary examinations carried out? This is not so easy.
Well advised by the previous owners from the circus, we also got that under control.


So first of all. This tribal history of the zebras is identical to that of the horse in its beginnings. That is, only about 1 to 2 million years ago the "tree" branches. The horses remained to themselves, so to speak. That was in the Pleistocene (Ice Age).
Half asses (Hemionus), wild asses (Asinus) and zebras (Hippotigris) went their own way. The "distant relationship" can still be proven today. In this way, animals living in captivity can be crossed with one another at will. However, these cross-breeding products are usually no longer fertile.

Roughly divided into 3 groups, there are still today:

  • Grevy's zebra (Equus grevyi)
  • Mountain zebra (Equus zebra)
  • Plains zebra (Equus quagga)



Plains zebra - Bohemian zebra
Equus quagga boehmi

Damara or Burchell plains zebra
(Equus quagga burchellii)

Chapmann plains zebra
Equus quagga chapmani


The mountain zebra, the smallest of the three zebra species, only exists in small numbers.
The Grevy Zebra can be said to be almost extinct.
It is more pleasant to report on the plains zebra. It lives in large populations up to 11,000 animals. They also live in close association with herds of wildebeest. When so many animals are together, they offer each other protection from predators. In addition, there is no food competition with the wildebeest. Some of them eat the grass in different stages of growth than others.
By the way, it is interesting that the three zebra species are not more closely related to each other than, for example, to our domestic horses.

Kuwait and Oman are plains zebras and like to live in company with other animals.
Her reaction, for example, was touching when we brought her old companions from the circus era to her pasture for the first time. They were all happy.
The camels and guanacos first approached the zebras in a friendly manner. Then the guanacos hunched over to the striped companions. The camels, they naturally wanted to appear more dignified and only dangled their mighty slippers and bodies clumsily, their neck and head keeping their balance in wide movements. Everyone expressed their feelings in their own personal way.
Finally they grazed, satisfied and amicable, almost head to head. After the separation back to the stable, the zebras neighed, which they have not done in a long time, loud and repeated in the direction in which their companions disappeared.

All zebras have stripes, but why? A question put to experts to answer. And there is a lot of guesswork, but "you don't know anything for sure"

There are three theories, all three of which are probably justified:

  • The answer "Camouflage" sounds a bit improbable at first.
    We wouldn't have believed it either until Oman and Kuwait taught us better. Looking for them, we couldn't find them in their paddock. They were not far away between a group of bushes. Even at a further distance we sometimes have difficulties to find the animals.
  • The second guess sounds a lot more scientific.
    The striped pattern affects the complex eye of the tsetse fly contour resolving (somatolytic). These insects, which transmit dangerous diseases (sleeping sickness), should spare the zebras because they can no longer find them.
  • Again fingerprint is different in all people, so are the stripe patterns of all zebras. This will be less important for criminology. Rather, it is assumed that zebra children, in addition to voice and smell, also orientate themselves on the pattern of their mother and find them easier. That sounds obvious when you consider that in such huge herds (full of stripes) the connection must not be missed.
You should recognize them by the stripes:

Which of the three zebra species we have in front of us is revealed by their stripes.
The Grevy's zebra also has a white belly, then vertical, narrow stripes on the body. The strips bend upwards on the legs.

The Mountain zebra has a white belly and otherwise narrow stripes. There is also a flap of skin called a "dewlap" under the neck.

The Plains zebra has wide, vertical stripes on the body and also on the belly. There are horizontal stripes on the legs.
Although the plains zebras live in huge herds, they belong to one of their own within them Family group at. In a family association there is a stallion, several mares, foals and yearlings.

The mares are horsey all year round at certain intervals. The best time to give birth to foals is the rainy season, when there is plenty of food.
The gestation period is between 11 and 12 months. After this time, a foal is usually born.
The newborn can stand up to around 20 minutes after birth. Another hour later, the mother's foal follows. It takes about six to eight days for the foal to finally recognize its mother. Until then, it follows everything that is greater than itself. A circumstance that keeps the caring mother always ready. She never lets her child (just like horse mothers) out of her sight and watches every step he takes.
The vitality and speed with which these small creatures follow their fleeing herd after a very short time is vital and astonishes us again and again.
Sexually mature become zebras at around 2 years of age.

The zebra mother nurses her child for about ten months. However, the foal begins to eat grass just a few days after birth.
After the suckling period, at the latest before sexual maturity, the young animals are expelled from the family association and join other groups.
This sounds harsh and cruel, but it is the only way to avoid inbreeding.

Young stallions form their own bachelor groups. As soon as they are strong enough, they try to start a family of their own. Either they drive an old stallion away from his group or they get mares from an existing family association.

The mountain zebra is the smallest of the three species of zebra. (Height at withers approx. 120 to 130 cm) with a weight of 260 - 370 kg.

Our plains zebras have a height at the withers of approx. 130 - 140 cm and a weight of 300 to 450 kg.
Enemies have these peaceful animals too, of course. First and foremost is probably the human being. Mountain zebras and Grevy's zebras were almost exterminated as food competitors (of their domestic herds). There are also a lot of predators that zebras feed on.
A sharp hearing, good eyes, speed, hooves and teeth are given to the zebras for protection.
All water points are special danger zones. All animals meet there to be able to absorb the life-sustaining water. The predators also know this and prefer these places as popular hunting grounds.
Zebras, like donkeys, can absorb a lot of water in a very short time. This is so important because you want to leave the dangerous water point as soon as possible after taking in the largest possible amount of liquid.
Depending on the weather and food, zebras can do without water for up to 3 days.

Grass forms that Main food the zebra. Of course, they also nibble on bark and branches, if present. The very peaceful animals spend most of the day (up to 80%) eating.

Of course, humans have already tried to use zebras for their own purposes. Once this has really succeeded, there were exceptions. Zebras are wild animals and because of their constitution they are not suitable as riding or draft animals.

Our zebras Kuwait and Oman obviously feel at home with us. We're not trying to force anything on them either. Your friendly nature and your presence are happy and we are happy to take care of you.
The female animal is called the mare (just like with horses), the male is the stallion. Up to a year the young zebra foal is called. Then, up to the age of 2, we are dealing with a yearling.
The degree of relationship of the three groups Mountain zebra, Grevy's zebra and plains zebra with each other is no greater than that with our domestic horses.

Grevy's zebra: 125 to 150 cm height at the withers
Mountain zebra: 120 cm to 130 cm height at the withers
Plains zebra: 130 cm to 140 cm height at the withers
Tail: 50 cm long with long hair (tassel) only at the end


Grevy's zebra: 250 kg to 430 kg
Mountain zebra: 260 kg to 370 kg
Plains zebra: 300 kg to 450 kg

Lining:Mostly grass, occasionally leaves and bark
Way of life:Lives in large herds within which they form family groups.
Young stallions gather in so-called bachelor groups.
Reproduction:Sexual maturity is reached at around 2 years of age.
Heat cycle all year round in a three-week rhythm
Gestation period is 11 to 12 months. As a rule, a foal is born.
Most foaling takes place in the rainy season (between November and April).
After weaning (suckling period) around 10 months, the foals are driven out of the herd. (Protection against inbreeding)
Life expectancy:About 28 years
Enemies:The human being who sees them as food competitors of his farm animals.
Protection:Sharp hearing, good eyes. Hooves and teeth. Speed.
Medical specialty:When providing medical care for captive animals, it is important to understand that conventional narcotics are not appropriate. Their use is strongly discouraged.