Species Survival Plan
Semi-arid and scrub grasslands
Grasses, fruit, shrubs and bark
Originally Native To
Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya
60 inches at shoulder
Male 1,000 lb.
Female 900 lb.
Very narrow, close stripes - even on mane. Stripes extend down legs, but not around stomach
No permanent bonds between adults; only strong bond is mare and foal; do not form permanent herds
About Grevy’s Zebra
This zebra is named for Jules Grevy, a French president who received one from the king of Ethiopia as a gift in the 1880s. It is the largest of the wild equids. It is set apart from horses and asses, its two closest relatives, by its stripes and untamable wild nature.
Grevy’s zebras are often seen on the open plains with other grazing animals, such as wildebeest, ostrich and antelopes. They can sprint 40 mph.
Grevy’s zebras have long, narrow heads with large, round ears to give them a mule-like appearance. Their ears can be rotated to determine the location of sound. Grevy’s zebras have good eyesight with binocular vision in the front and can probably see in color.
Their sense of taste is also keen and can detect slight changes in the quality of their food. They spend about 60 percent of the day grazing and up to 80 percent when food becomes scarce.
The zebra stallions live alone within large territories of up to four square miles, in which they claim exclusive mating rights. They mark their territories with dung. Two males will compete for an area by having pushing contests, rearing and biting.
They form temporary relations with females in estrus that happen to wander through their territory. Once the foals are born, the mares stay within about a mile of water and are almost always with the territorial stallion. The females have a dominance hierarchy as well, but engage in mutual grooming to establish relationships with each other.
Within an hour of birth, a foal can run with the rest of the herd and can recognize its mother with sight and smell. Each zebra has a unique stripe pattern.
Although they tend to be very aggressive toward other animals, Grevy’s zebras are beneficial to other wild grazers because they clear off the tops of coarse grasses that are difficult for other herbivores to digest.
Habitat loss in an already restricted range is a serious threat to the Grevy’s survival. They have to compete for resources with other grazers, as well as cattle and livestock.
Due to overgrazing and competition for water, Grevy’s juveniles have a low survival rate. Over the past 30 years, the population has dropped substantially from an estimated 5,800. The wild population of Grevy’s is approximately 1,950.
In Ethiopia, hunting is the primary cause of the decline of Grevy's zebras. They are usually hunted for their striking skins, but will occasionally be killed for food and, in some regions, medicinal uses continue. In addition to illegal hunting, Grevy's also face threats from disease outbreaks, drought, habitat loss, and fragmented populations.
The Grevy’s zebra was the first of Fossil Rim’s Species Survival Plan (SSP) animals. The species has been represented at Fossil Rim since 1982 and more than 30 foals have been born here. Grevy's zebras live in a private pasture and can only be visited on an Adventure Tour when that tour is available.
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