Why Do Zebras Have Stripes?

Zebras have stripes to make them blend in with the scenery and to keep them safe from attack.

This is very much like what soldiers do in wartime, as they cover their helmets with leaves and attempt to hide their artillery by drawing leaf-covered nets over them to blend them in with the scenery. This is called camouflage. Though the zebra doesn’t know this word, it practices camouflage very effectively. Since zebras live in the same grasslands as lions, their main enemy, this protection is very necessary.

Even though the zebra is a member of the horse family, its unusual color pattern sets it apart from its relatives. The zebra’s parallel stripes of black or brown on a white or almost-white background are like a design which covers the whole animal, even its tail, mane, and ears.

The zebra’s temperament is also very different from the other members of the horse family. Zebras are difficult to tame and train, and are savage fighters. In zoos, the zebra is considered a vicious animal, and its keepers always are on guard against a crippling kick or bite.

As with human fingerprints, each zebra has its own pattern of stripes. No zebra is striped exactly like any other, each is one of a kind!