10 Dazzling Facts About Zebras

    • There are two species of zebra found in South Africa: Mountain zebra and Plains or Burchell’s zebra.
    • A family group of zebra or ‘harem’ as it is known, is collectively referred to as a ‘dazzle’ or ‘zeal’. This group is led by one strong stallion who has a number of females all following his lead.
    • Although they look fairly placid, zebras have a rather severe kick and an extremely nasty bite. They often use either of these forms of attack to protect themselves from predators or when the stallions are fighting with one another.

      Tanda-Tula Zebras fighting, Chad Cocking


    • The big debate is: are zebras are black with white stripes or white with black stripes? Well, they are mostly covered with a white-ish fur which then has black or brown stripes overlaid onto this coat. Some species also have a shadow stripe. However, very interestingly, the skin underneath their fur coat is actually black!
    • Every zebra has a unique stripe pattern, exactly like fingerprints or snowflakes. Young zebra foals recognize their mothers by their individual stripe pattern as well as their unique smell.

      Tanda-Tula Zebra, Chad Cocking


  • This unusual stripy coat acts as a natural air conditioner, dispersing 70% of the incoming heat. However, the stripes also act as a super-efficient insect repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsucking insects away. It seems the monochrome pattern confuses the flies’ visual system and keeps them at bay.
  • Often zebras will be found feeding together with other herbivores such as wildebeest and impala: this is works as a means of protection – more eyes to see and ears to hear any approaching predators.
  • Zebras do not lie down when they want to sleep, but rather they will take short cat naps while standing up in the safety of the harem.
  • Even though zebras look large and bulky, with a similar build to a horse, they can reach speeds of up to 60 km per hour which is fast enough to outrun lions. Incredibly, foals are able to keep up with the rest of the herd within a matter of hours after birth.
  • In Ancient Rome, zebras were referred to as ‘hippotigris’ meaning ‘horse-tigers’ and they were used in the circuses to pull chariots.

    Tanda-Tula Zebras at sunset, Luke Street