Fun Grevy's Zebra Facts For Kids

Akinwalere Olaleye
Jan 04, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Grevy’s zebra facts like they are named after a French president from the 19th century, Jules Grevy are interesting.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 9.7 Min

The Grevy’s zebra was named so in the late 19th century, by a French zoologist Emile Oustalet, after the French president at that time, Jules Grevy.

This zebra species belongs to the class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae, and is also known as the imperial zebra. The animals look like a majestic cross between a horse and a mule, with a black and white stripe pattern that extends all over the body.

They also have unique features that distinguish them from other plains zebras including round ears and an all-white belly without stripes.

Here are three interesting facts on this species. First, a Grevy’s zebra is the largest wild equid still found on the planet, weighing anything between a hefty 770-990 lb (350-450 kg).

Second, they are an Endangered species, still found in Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya, while having become extinct in Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia within the same continent of Africa!

Third, they are a resilient species, with the ability to survive without water for at least a week. They can also survive on a few one-minute naps per day, as they sleep while standing.

Read on if you're interested to find out more! You may also check out the fact files on the Asiatic black bear and Indochinese tiger from Kidadl.

Grevy's Zebra Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Grevy's zebra?

Grevy's zebras are four-legged wild equids, like horses. This also shows up in Grevy's zebra scientific name, Equus grevyi.

What class of animal does a Grevy's zebra belong to?

A Grevy’s zebra belongs to the Mammalia class of animals, as females directly give birth to a single foal (much like humans).

How many Grevy's zebras are there in the world?

As of 2020, there are 2,500 of these zebra Grevy's out among wildlife. There are also 600 Jules Grevy zebras cared for in captivity.

Where does a Grevy's zebra live?

Grevy’s zebras live in the savanna, including semi-arid grasslands in their home range of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya.

What is a Grevy's zebra's habitat?

Grevy’s zebras are either solitary animals or prefer to be social only within their own tribe. While they can live without water for many days, they prefer to live in families of 4-20 (also called a herd, or zeal, or dazzle) close to readily available water sources.

For this, a male zebra (stallion) will seek water sources in his home range (like a river or pond in the wild) and mark his territory within a 1 mi (1.6 km) radius. The stallion may occasionally allow other males in his territory, provided they bow down to his supremacy within the territory.

Mares actively seek stallions with their own territory for mating, so their foals have enough water to drink. Also, the stallion becomes responsible for protecting the rest of his herd from predators and other strangers.

Grevy's zebra habitat loss is one of the key reasons for the reduction of this species population. A few Serengeti Grevy's zebras may be part of the great migration in their search for water. But a majority of this species' population are forced to share their shrinking habitat with other grazing creatures (including cattle).

In addition to this, hunting, poaching, and increased agriculture on their home range have all collectively led to this species becoming endangered in the near future. This has led to the formation of several public and private enterprises committed to the conservation of this species.

Of note is the Grevy's Zebra Trust, working to protect and preserve this zebra species in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Who do Grevy's zebras live with?

Grevy’s zebras either live on their own (especially strong males), or in packs with their families (one male, a few females with their foals). Also, a group of Grevy’s zebras is called a herd, or zeal, or a dazzle. They all prefer to live close to water sources within a stallion’s territory.

How long does a Grevy's zebra live?

The Grevy’s zebra life span is between 20-25 years in the wild. This life span can be extended up to 30 years in managed care (like zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, and conservation parks covered by the Grevy's zebra trust in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya).

How do they reproduce?

The Grevy’s zebra can mate anytime in the year, though most tend to prefer the rainy season in their home range. During this time, mares go about looking for stallions with their own territory to mate.

Stallions accordingly guard their territories aggressively (from other males) during this time. This zebra species also practices polyandry, so unattached females may mate with as many as four stallions during a year.

Once a mare conceives, she will live with the stallion for two critical reasons - proximity to water sources, and protection from predators and strangers during the 13-month gestation period. This also helps the mare guard her foal from other mares during the early months.

Females deliver a single foal in a year. Grevy's zebra foals are born with a dark brown body, which gradually turns darker as they grow. So when the foal becomes a full-grown adult, its brown stripes appear to have magically turned black in color!

Foals can wait until they are three months old before they begin drinking water. This is to help them settle into their semi-arid habitat.

Foals also live with their mothers in the wild until they are at least two years old. They become completely independent by the time they are three years, either living by themselves or in small herds with other foals in the wild.

What is their conservation status?

The official conservation status of this species is listed as Endangered. They are also a part of IUCN’s red list of threatened species, highlighting their alarming potential to become a Critically Endangered species in the future. In fact, this precious zebra species have already been eradicated in Eritrea Djibouti, and Somalia in the continent of Africa!

It is interesting to note that this zebra species was thriving until the 1970s, with a strong population of 15,000 wild equids spread all over the world. This saw a startling 70% reduction by the 21st century as the Grevy’s zebra population numbers fell below 3,500.

Key reasons for this drastic dip include habitat loss and hunting or poaching by humans.

As of 2020, there are an estimated 2,500 zebra Grevy’s surviving in the wild. Another 600 zebras are maintained in managed captivity in zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. The Grevy's Zebra Trust (GZT) in Kenya is one such important endeavor, wholly committed to the conservation of this zebra species and their distinct Grevy’s zebra habitat.

Grevy's Zebra Fun Facts

What do Grevy's zebras look like?

A Grevy’s zebra looks a lot like a horse, with a long and narrow head, round mule-like ears, a short but thick neck, and hoofed feet. It has a black and white body with a striking stripe pattern, and a thick mane of hair extending from its ears along its back.

One feature of the Grevy's zebra vs plains zebra is its all-white belly, without any stripes.

The Grevy's zebra size is comparable to a small horse, ranging anywhere between 4.8–5.2 ft (1.45–1.6 m) in height. The Grevy’s zebra is also the largest wild equid currently found on the planet, weighing a substantial 770–990 lb (350–450 kg).

Grevy's Zebra

How cute are they?

Grevy’s zebras are adorably cute animals. When they trot along in groups, they make a striking visual with their eye-catching mane and black and white stripes.

They are also herbivorous animals and pose no danger to humans. But they can get aggressive around perceived threats and strangers, with a surprisingly forcible kick for protection! So, it is best to approach them under managed care with their favorite treats (like grass, tender shoots, and fruit).

How do they communicate?

The Grevy’s zebra has a powerful sense of smell, which can help them sense another Grevy's zebra location. They also communicate through a variety of sounds, including whistles and snorts used to alarm the herd, blowing sounds when happy, and squeals with braying sounds when they are feeling threatened.

Grevy’s zebras are also known for their various facial expressions. Of particular note is the charming grin of females, especially when they are ready to mate!

How big is a Grevy's zebra?

A Grevy’s zebra is the largest wild equid animal on the planet, weighing 10 times the size of a German shepherd dog with thrice its height. They are 4.8–5.2 ft (1.45–1.6 m) tall.

How fast can a Grevy's zebra run?

Grevy’s zebras are fast animals. They can gallop at speeds of 40 mph (64 kph).

How much does a Grevy's zebra weigh?

This zebra is the largest wild equid on the planet, and this shows with its massive 770–990 lb (350–450 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

A male Grevy’s zebra is called a stallion while the female is called a mare. Mares often look for stallions with their own territory, where water is abundantly available, especially for Grevy's zebra foals.

What would you call a baby Grevy's zebra?

A baby Grevy’s zebra is called a zebra foal.

What do they eat?

Grevy’s zebras are herbivorous animals who love to graze (on grass) and browse (on tree-growing leaves, tender shoots, and fruit). They also feed on legumes.

They have the astonishing ability to survive long periods (at least a week) without water. In this, they are more resilient than their foremost predator, lions, who can survive without water for no more than four days.

Are they aggressive?

Male Grevy’s zebras can get aggressive when they grow into adult stallions. The zebra species thrives on a strong social structure, with one stallion leading a territory.

There may be multiple males within a territory, but they bow down in social structure to the head stallion. Also, female Grevy’s zebras (mares) actively seek these territories, so they are under the protection of the head stallion.

So stallion zebras can get aggressive, especially when they perceive a threat to their mares or territory. This can either be in the form of a predator, or from male zebras outside their territory. They express their aggression through a range of Grevy's zebra noises, including braying, snorting, and whistle-like sounds.

Would they make a good pet?

Grevy’s zebras, also known by their scientific name Equus grevyi, do not form the best of pets. Unlike horses which are social and hence friendly animals, a Grevy’s zebra is more solitary in nature.

It will either live on its own or within a zebra territory with other mares and the head stallion. This species is wary of strangers, including other male zebras outside its territory. It can also get aggressive with perceived strangers.

Did you know...

Zebras have naturally black bodies covered with hair and white stripes. Some zebras (like the Grevy's zebra species) are born with dark brown bodies and white stripes.

The foal’s body gets darker, from brown to black, as it grows into an adult. So, black or brown stripes in a zebra are actually a surprising myth! They only have white stripes on their dark bodies.

How did the Grevy's zebra get its name?

While zebras have been known by the Europeans for many centuries, it wasn’t until the late 19th century when this species received global attention. This happened when the Ethiopian government sent a zebra from this species as a royal gift to the French government.

A French zoologist accordingly named this hitherto unknown species as the Grevy’s zebra, based on the presiding president of France at that time, Jules Grevy.

How do Grevy's zebras form social groups?

Zebras typically reside together in groups or herds. But the Grevy’s zebra is more fluid in its social interaction.

For instance, young foals group together in small herds once they leave their mother. Male zebras may live by themselves, or in small herds headed by a stallion. Mares may live in a stallion-headed herd, or with other mares when they are nursing.

Also, it is common to see a family of Grevy’s zebras during the rainy season, which includes a stallion, two to three mares, and their foals. But all of this can change at a moment’s notice!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our zorse facts and quagga facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Grevy's zebra coloring pages.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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