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Quagga Zebra

Recently, the Quagga ( Equius quagga), has been eliminated. It was closely connected to zebras and horses. These zebras averaged 53 inches in height and were weighing between 500 and 700 pounds. The Quagga is a close relative of Equus burchelli’s Burchell’s Zebra was more intricate in its stripes. Burchell’s Zebras feature black stripes against a white background with brownish “shadows” stripes in between. The pattern can be very diverse. Some Burchell’s Zebras even have hindquarters with no stripes. Museum specimens of the Quagga have dark stripes on the neck and head and back, however further back the stripes become paler and the interspaces darker, until they combine into a plain brownish color. It is interesting to note that zebra stripes can be similar to fingerprints of humans. There are no two zebras with exactly the identical pattern of stripes making it easier to identify the individuals. (Planet Wildlife, 1993)


Quaggas were polygynous. That means there was one mature male in each group , or “harem” of females. A male has to abduct his females one by one while from their father’s herds before becoming a harem-stallion.

Between the ages of one and two years of age, the fillies began to ovulate and started advertising their estrus through adopting the unique position. Many stallions were gathered around an equidistant herd, which included an estrus female and fought for her with the herd stallion, and with each other.

The Stallions fought the filly on a daily basis for a month up until the time she was born. Although foals can be born any month however there was an year-long peak in the birth or mating process from December to January, which corresponds to the rain season in East Africa. Mares in good condition reproduced every two years, having their first foal aged 3 to 3.5 years. (Skeleton, 1992)

Quaggas lived in large herds alongside their families for many years. When members of the herd got separated The family stallion was able to locate the stray using a unique message that was followed by the remainder of the herd.

If any of the members became unwell or injured the entire herd would protect it by adjusting its pace to accommodate the slowest member. They had home ranges as small as 11 mi square (30 km square) in the most favorable environment, however they could expand their range to 232 miles (600 km sq) in migratory groups.

Skeleton, 1992

Quaggas were a somewhat diurnal animal. They preferred to stay in the short grasses, where they were protected from ambush at night. Though they each grazed for about an hour in the evening and moved about tiny.

The herd slept but at the very least, one member of the herd was alert and awake while they were asleep. At daybreak in mild weather, the herds began walking to pastures that had longer grass and covered more than 10 mi (17 kilometers) before retiring for another night.

Herds’ mass movements were observed between sleeping and pasture grounds, stopping for water around midday. (Hannover Zoo Animals 1991)

Like all species of zebras there was an everyday ritual of hygiene. To rid themselves of parasites, the animals would sit together, nibbling on each other’s necks, backs, manes, and legs. The same service was provided by the oxbird which could be often seen riding on animals’ backs. (Hannover Zoo Animals, 1991)

The 12th August of 1883 at the Amsterdam Zoo in Holland was home to the last Quagga. Most likely, the last wild Quagga from South Africa was killed by hunters in 1878. (S. Africa’s Threatened Wildlife 1993) Although the South African Red Data Book describes the Quagga as an extinct species , it’s been shown that it is actually a subspecies of Burchell’s Zebra.

The South African Museum in Cape Town is now pursuing a project to selectively breed Burchell’s Zebras with minimal striping on their hindquarters until the same color pattern as the Quagga might replicated.

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