Amazing Animal Books
For Young Readers
The zebra is one crazy-looking animal; it’s covered in stripes, and
that’s not something you see in a lot of animals. Tigers, okapis, tabby
cats... the list is not incredibly long.
Since the beginning, zebras have fascinated Westerners. Africans lived
with them for a long time, so they were not a surprise to them, but to
the Westerner, a striped animal was an oddity to be marveled at and
taken home for other people to gawk at. In some ways, it’s still this
The zebra, a relative of the horse and donkey, has never been
domesticated. It probably never will be.
What are zebras?
A zebra belongs to the genus Equus, which horses and donkeys also
belong to, among other creatures. However, the subgenera that zebras
belong to include Hippotigris and Dolichohippus. The thing that unites
zebras as a type of animal is the stripes that go up and down their
Some people have described the zebra as a striped horse. There is some
truth in that description, but zebras have their differences.
Zebras are slower than horses in general. However, they do have a very
good stamina, which really helps in outrunning predators.
Two of the kinds of zebras are more related to horses, and one kind is
more related to donkeys. The main reason they are grouped together is
because they are striped.
Another key thing is that, despite having white underbellies, zebras are
actually black with white markings. The stripes occur for a number of
reasons: to blend in, to dazzle predators, possibly to identify, as every
pattern is unique, attracting fewer flies, and possibly even helping with
Zebras have amazing vision. Scientists even believe they can see in
color. They also have very great hearing, and unlike horses and
donkeys, they can rotate their ears.
There are also zebras that have cream coloring instead of black, or are
completely white. This is sort of rare, but happens enough for it to be
considered a fairly common thing.
Zebras are susceptible to various diseases, such as pneumonia and
pleuritis. They also sometimes get parasites, such as ticks or botsfly
larvae. They can be easily poisoned by red maple tree leaves, the same
as horses, ponies, and donkeys.
How do zebras act?
For starters, most types of zebras live in groups called harems. This
consists of a male zebra, his mates, up to seven or so, and their babies.
It is the male's job to protect his harem. However, some kinds of zebras
are more solitary, only coming together to mate, and staying in groups
of a mare and her foals and males staying alone. In both groups,
however, unmated males often form groups together.
A zebra foal.
The social groups of the latter zebra could best be described as
sometimes coming together for a few months, and then breaking up.
They are alone for most of the time, except for when a mother has a
Zebras sleep standing up. This is another thing they have in common
with horses. However, they don’t usually sleep without first making
sure there’s an awake zebra in their group to alert them to predators and
They have a few ways of communicating, though it depends on the type
of zebra which they use. For instance, high-pitched barks and
whinnying are pretty normal for most zebras. However, in a smaller
group of zebras, braying, rather like mules, is very normal.
Their ears also indicate things about how they’re feeling. If they’re
straight up, or erect, they are happy. If they’re pulled forward, then the
zebra is scared. If they are pulled backwards, the zebra is angry.
However, they also can have erect ears when they are looking for
predators; at the same time, they will stare and hold their head high.
Zebras eat mainly grasses. This doesn’t mean they won’t eat things like
shrubs and other plants; it just means they eat a whopping majority of
grasses. Most animals, even other herbivores (plant eaters), can’t
survive on the diet of a zebra, but a zebra’s digestive system is
specially designed to make the zebra survive on less nutrition than
Male zebras don’t really help with raising the foals, though they might
protect them in certain types of zebras. It’s on the mother to feed and
rear the foal. In some types, it’s entirely on her to protect the foal too.
A female zebra has about one foal a year, though she also nurses each
foal for a year. Zebra foals are entirely able to stand, walk, and nurse
shortly after birth. This is something else they have in common with
horses; it makes sense because a zebra mother certainly can’t carry her
baby around. Baby zebras are born white and brown instead of white
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