Zebras are now found all over the world today in zoo’s and sanctuaries, but they all hail from the African continent. There are three main types of zebra’s, the Mountain Zebra, Plains Zebra, and the Grevy’s Zebra. The first two are more closely related to the horse, but the Grevy’s Zebra is more like the donkey. The Plains Zebra is the most common and the other two are endangered.
Each type of zebra had a stripe pattern that is unique to its family. The experts know this because the types do not interbreed. It has been tried in captivity, but not very successfully. There has been more luck crossing them with actual horses and donkeys, creating zedonks and zorses. Zebras are actually black with white stripes in case you have ever needed that in a discussion. Foals are born with brown and white markings that turn darker as they age. Stripes are also believed to be used as visual illustrations to create confusion for predators.
Most zebras live in groups called harems. The stallion will have up to 6 mares and her foals in a harem. The bachelor males will live in groups with other males until old enough to challenge the breeding stallion. They are also very protective of the mares and foals should wild dogs or hyenas be on the prowl.
To warn each other they will winney or bark. Their ears also signify if they are tense, happy or afraid. They will also rear up and kick if backed into a corner by a predator.
People have tried to domesticate zebras almost since they were discovered with very little luck. In England Lord Rothschild had a team of zebras that would pull his carriage around the city. There are other accounts, but it proves to be more skittish than our domesticated horses.
Zebras continued to be hunted for their skins and for meat. They also get into cultivated land and so are culled in those areas. However, all types of zebras are protected in the national parks in Africa.
And one last fun fact: Recent research has shown that TU-103, a strain of Clostridium bacteria found in zebra feces, can convert nearly any form of cellulose into butanol fuel.