International Zebra Day
January 31 marks the International Day of one of the world’s favourite animal species: zebras! These mammals, as resilient as they’re headstrong (they’ve got quite the character!) are truly mythical animals of the African savannah.
It’s hard to imagine the magnificent landscapes of Africa without the presence of these valiant black and white striped quadrupeds, and yet! Of the three species of zebras found in the wild, two are listed as threatened.
Today, we take this opportunity to celebrate these unique animals and learn more about why every effort must be made to preserve them for future generations!
Do you love zebras? We do too! They’re truly fascinating mammals and must be seen as more than just pretty, striped equines. Here are some surprising facts about these endearing herbivores:
1. There are three zebra species found in the wild. They include the plains zebra, the mountain zebra and the Grévy’s zebra; this last one is in danger of extinction.
2. Zebras are gregarious animals that live in family groups headed by a dominant stallion. In fact, clashes between stallions for the possession of a herd can be quite spectacular!
3. Zebras have a 350-degree vision! However, they have trouble distinguishing landforms and perspectives, which makes it difficult for them to spot a predator that is standing perfectly still.
4. When it comes to running, even though they’re slower than horses, they can still reach speeds of up to 65 km/h.
5. Plains zebras, along with wildebeests, carry out one of the most important annual migrations of any mammal. On average, between 300,000 and 500,000 zebras travel up to 1,000 km every year to reach greener pastures.
6. Halfway between the horse’s neigh and the donkey’s bray, the zebra produces a unique and characteristic call that sounds more like a yelp.
7. Gestation lasts from 11 to 12 months, and the mare generally gives birth to just one offspring.
8. Zebra foals are well advised to stand quickly on their four legs: fifteen minutes after birth, they’re up and running, ready to flee from danger!
9. Lions, hyenas, African wild dogs and leopards are among their fiercest predators. Gigantic Nile crocodiles join the list, especially during their great migrations.
10. Zebras live between 25 and 30 years in the wild. However, in a zoo setting, they can live up to 40 years.