Visitor & Tickets
Animals & Exhibits
Learning Adventures
Temperature fluctuations and depletions of fish from human over-harvesting have caused a decline in the Inca tern population. read more >

Grevy's zebra

Scientific name: Equus grevyi

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Perissodactyla
FAMILY: Equidae 

STATISTICS: Weight: 770 to 990 lbs; Height: 5 ft at shoulder

The Grevy’s zebra is the largest of the wild equids (horses, asses, and zebras). Its coat is a myriad of vertical black stripes against a white background. The stripes end just above the belly, leaving it white. These stripes are bisected by a long, thicker black stripe that runs the length of the spinal column from the base of the mane to the base of the tail. The Grevy’s zebra is more evenly striped than other species of zebra. It has large, rounded ears that sit atop a head that is larger in proportion to the body than other species. The mane stands erect and is also striped, alternately black and white.

African countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, and possibly Sudan

Arid and semi-arid grass/shrubland where water is present year-round

The Grevy’s zebra has a social system that is different from other zebra species. This system is characterized by the loose relationships between individuals instead of a close relationship to other zebras. The strongest bonds present in a group are between the mares and their foals. The zebras form groups usually consisting of non-territorial bachelors or nursing mares; however, the bonds between members of the group are unstable and many animals move freely from group to group.

Mature males will often claim a territory that has a water source or plentiful grazing. After an individual claims a territory, it will defend its prize with its life. For an herbivore, these territories can get quite large. In general, these territorial males live alone and mate with the females that pass through their territory. This system is quite different than other species of zebra, which will often form harems – several females living with a single male. The younger, less dominant males will typically form bachelor groups of around two to four individuals. These groups will wander freely, with no specific territory.

Although the bonds between zebras are loose and temporary, the ritual of grooming is very important. The adult animals will groom each other by rubbing their head and neck against the other’s back and flank. Mares will occasionally nip gently at their young’s mane and legs. Grevy’s zebras will also work together when faced with a threat. They will typically line up parallel to one another, facing the threat. If it becomes too dangerous, the whole group will turn and flee at the same time, hoping to confuse the predator with the maze of stripes all moving together.

The gestation period of the Grevy’s zebra is about 13 months. The peak mating months are July-August and October-November. These months are typically those of the rainy season, when resources are abundant. When a foal is born, it is able to walk in approximately 20 to 30 minutes and is able to run within an hour. During the first few days after birth, the mare will aggressively shoo away other females so the foal will not imprint on another mare. The juvenile is russet-colored and its mane extends all the way down to the base of its tail. As the animal grows, the stripes will slowly attain their black color and the mane will shorten and stiffen. A foal will stay with its mother for, at most, three years; however, foals have been known to become somewhat independent at the young age of seven months. They have no problem grazing hundreds of yards away from their mothers. After each mating season, males will become one of two types: they will be territorial or they will be “free-roaming,” meaning they have no specific territory and travel in small groups. The males will remain this way until the rains return.

Prey: to lions, cheetahs, hyenas, hunting dogs, leopards, man
Predator: to none

Tough grasses of the savannah and occasionally leaves

Listed as Endangered by IUCN due to habitat destruction, illegal poaching, competition with domestic animals for resources, and disease. It is also covered by CITES Appendix I. Currently, the population trend is stable.


  • The Grevy’s zebra has, unfortunately, endured one of the most substantial reductions of range of any African mammal.
  • Each individual has a unique set of stripes, similar to fingerprints in humans.


  1. Moehlman, P.D., Rubenstein, D.I. & Kebede, F. 2008. Equus grevyi. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. Downloaded on 4 November 2009.
  2. Kingdon, J. 1979. East African Mammals. Vol. IIIB. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  3. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. Volume IIII pg. 1157. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

Published: August 2010

Want to learn more about animals?

Check out our Learning Adventrues for newborn to 99.

Early Childhood
Middle / High School
Senior Citizens

Hours of Operation
Summer8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(March – October)
Winter10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
(November – February)
*The Zoo will be closed one day only, September 8, 2018 to facilitate the preparation of the annual Zoo fundraiser, Zoobilee.