Grévy's Zebra

Grévy's Zebra

Imperial zebra

Equus grevyi
Population size
Life Span
12-30 yrs
64 km/h
350-450 kg
146-152 cm
244-274 cm

Grévy's zebras are magnificent and elegant creatures. Although they belong to the horse family, these animals are actually more closely related to the African wild asses. Due to excessive and continuous hunting, they were once threatened with total extinction. Currently, efforts are put to recover this huge population loss. Grévy's zebras perceive their environment through a well-developed binocular vision. As it comes to food, these mammals are very selective and require a suitable quality of food.


The current range of this species covers north-eastern and southern regions of Ethiopia as well as central and northern Kenya. Within this territory, Grevy’s zebras are generally found in dry, semi-desert grasslands.

Grévy's Zebra habitat map



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Grevy's zebras are diurnal mammals. They exhibit a rather unusual social behavior for zebras. Thus, females and their young may occasionally gather in temporary herds. Within these herds, mothers and their calves live in very close bonds. On the other hand, males tend to be solitary and don't develop long-lasting relationships. Mature males display a highly territorial behavior, marking their home ranges by means of "middens" - dung piles. During the mating season, females come to their territories to mate. At this period, each male fiercely defends its territory. However, males do associate with each other at the boundaries of their home ranges. They generally live in the same area throughout the year, although may leave the territory for greener pastures when the summer is too long. Reaching adolescence at 1 - 4 years old, young males leave their mothers and form bachelor herds.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

The diet of these herbivorous mammals primarily consists of grasses, supplemented by fruits, tree bark, shrubs, roots, leaves and buds.

Mating Habits

Year-round, peaks in July-August and October-November
13 months
1 foal
3 years
foal, colt

Males of this species exhibit polygynous behavior, breeding with all females coming into their home ranges. Females, in turn, display polyandry, mating with numerous males. However, some females become monandrous. Females usually come to a male's home range, due to being attracted by the resources of the territory. Then they settle in the area for a while, mating the male before leaving for another territory. Mating occurs at any time of year with peak periods in July-August and October-November. Gestation period lasts for 13 months, yielding a single baby, which is born highly developed. Within the first 6 minutes after birth, the foal begins to walk. It's able to run about 45 minutes after birth. During the first 6 - 8 months of its life, the foal is suckled by its mother, living with her for up to 3 years old, when it becomes reproductively mature. However, young males begin breeding only after 6 years old.


Population threats

These animals are currently facing one of the most wide-scale range reductions among African mammals. They have lost a considerable part of their original range. Remaining populations suffer from harsh competition for food with other grazing animals. They also compete for resources with cattle and livestock. On the other hand, population numbers are negatively affected by excessive grazing and competition for water sources. Those in Ethiopia are threatened by large-scale hunting for their meat, striking coats and medical use.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population of Grevy’s zebras is 1,966 - 2,447 individuals. This includes 1838-2319 animals in Kenya and 128 animals in Ethiopia. Overall, Grevy’s zebras are classified as Endangered (EN), but their numbers remain stable today.

Ecological niche

Grevy's are an important source of food for numerous predators of their range (lions, cheetahs, leopards, hyenas).

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The stripes on their body serve as ideal camouflage against predators, which hunt mainly by dusk. When noticing a predator, Grevy's zebras usually remain motionless in the tall grass until the danger has passed.
  • Grevy's zebras actively use vocalizations in the daily life, although the related plains zebras are even more vocal. One of the typical calls is a loud, donkey-like bray, serving as a form of communication between conspecifics.
  • Male Grevy's zebras maintain the largest home ranges among all herbivore around the globe. A single individual may have a huge territory of up to 10 sq. miles.
  • In the ancient Roman circus, these animals were called "hippotigris", translated as horse-tiger or tiger-horse.
  • The Grevy's zebra is so called after the President of the Third Republic regime of France, Jules Grévy. In 1882, he got specimen of the Grevy's zebra as a gift.
  • As a matter of fact, zebras are white with black stripes, not vice versa.


1. Grevy's Zebra Wikipedia article -
2. Grevy's Zebra on The IUCN Red List site -

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