An Ultimate Ungulate Fact SheetReturn to Perissodactyla

Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
      Order: Perissodactyla
        Family: Equidae
          Genus: Equus

Equus grevyi

      Grevy's zebra


Equus grevyi [Oustalet, 1882].  
Citation: La Nature (Paris), 10(2):12.
Type locality: Ethiopia, Galla Country.

Click on the pictures above for a larger view of the photographs

General Characteristics

Body Length: 250-275 cm / 8.3-9.1 ft.
Shoulder Height: 145-160 cm / 4.8-5.3 ft.
Tail Length: 55-75 cm / 22-30 in.
Weight: 350-450 kg / 770-990 lb.

The Grevy's zebra's black and white stripes are set extremely close together.  Those stripes on the hindquarters remain vertical until above the hind legs (rather than being primarily horizontal as in other zebra species), at which point an interesting triangular interface is created.  A wide black line passes down the spine, separated from the striping on the sides by white bands, while the white belly coloration extends part way up the sides.  Fine horizontal striping extends all the way down the legs to the hooves.  The head is large, with a grey to tan muzzle surrounded by a 'halo' of white.  The ears are extremely large, with rounded tips, and wide black and white striping on their backs.  A tall mane of erect hair on the nape of the neck is striped continuously with the body.

Ontogeny and Reproduction

Gestation Period: 13 months.
Young per Birth: 1
Weaning: 6-8 months.
Sexual Maturity: 3-4 years.
Life span: 20 years

Breeding occurs throughout the year, and the foal is independent at 7 months of age, although it will generally remain with its mother for 2-3 years..

Ecology and Behavior

About 10% of adult males are territorial, each controlling and area of 2.5-10 square kilometers - the largest known area of any herbivore.  These territories establish breeding privileges only - other adult males are allowed full access to the land, although not to the females who reside on it.  Strange males may be chased for a short period, thereby establishing the dominance of the territory owner.  The resident male constantly patrols this range, constantly adding to the marking dung heaps, and often standing erect with ears forward, surveying the land.  True combat is rare, and occurs either when an estrous female is at the border of two adjacent territories, or an interloping male is attempting to overtake a territory.  Unlike most other equids, Grevy's zebra is very flexible in terms of social structures, with nearly every combination of males and females being observed.  Herds are fairly loose in form, and the only lasting associations are between a mother and her foal.

Family group: Single sex and mixed herds of 6-20 animals, solitary animals are often seen.
Diet: Grasses.
Main Predators: Lion, spotted hyena.


Dry, semi-desert regions in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Range Map (Redrawn from IEA, 1998)

Conservation Status

Grevy's zebra is classified as endangered by the IUCN (1996).


The finely striped pelt of this species was "in style" during the 1970's, with several regional populations being destroyed during this time period for the sake of fashion.  

The origin of 'zebra' is obscure, but could be from the Abyssinian word zibra meaning striped.  Equus (Latin) a horse.  Francois P. J. Grevy (1807-1891) was the President of the French Republic from 1879-1887.

Literature Cited

IEA (Institute of Applied Ecology) 1998. Equus grevyi.  In African Mammals Databank - A Databank for the Conservation and Management of the African Mammals Vol 1 and 2. Bruxelles: European Commission Directorate. Available online at

Kingdon, J. 1997. The Kingdon field guide to African Mammals. Academic Press, London and New York: Natural World.

Klingel, H.  1990. Horses.  In Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals.  Edited by S. P. Parker. New York: McGraw-Hill. Volume 4, pp. 557-594.

Nowak, R. M. [editor]. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World (Fifth Edition). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder [editors]. 1993. Mammal Species of the World (Second Edition). Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press.  Available online at

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© Brent Huffman,
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