Zebras are Back

(Pittsburgh) (August 2014)— It is a black and white affair at the African Savanna this year as the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium welcomes back zebras. With generous help from the Vein Institute of Pittsburgh, this wonderful species will be available for all in the community to enjoy.

Our two new zebras, Spencer and Penelope or “Penny” for short, are Grant’s zebras, a somewhat common species of zebras found mostly in the African Savanna. Although both are around one-year-old, they already weigh over 300 pounds each.

For the next week, the zebras will be alternating time in the yard with the giraffes. The zebras will be in the yard from 9:30 a.m. to noon and the giraffes will be on exhibit for the remainder of the day. “We are giving them time to acclimate to their new yard and then we will introduce the giraffes and zebras together,” says Dr. Barbara Baker, President & CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

The yard was recently transformed into a larger space to accommodate both species. “We are very excited to once again have zebras back at the Zoo,” says Dr. Baker. “Our zebras have always been a favorite animal with our visitors. So when we were contacted about two young zebras being available, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Zebra stripes are more than just decorative coloring for the species. Each zebra species is identified by its own distinctive stripe pattern and each individual zebra wears his or her own characteristic pattern. The combination of black and white also provides the perfect camouflage for zebras to hide in the tall grasses of the savanna. Penny has a beautiful black-and-white braided pattern down her tail while Spencer is more of a brown-and-white stripe combination. 

Zebras exhibit a blend of personalities, showing a range of strong and spirited one minute to standoffish and vulnerable the next. They communicate with each other through different facial expressions and sounds such as braying, barking, or soft snorts. Different emotions are depicted through ear position, eye size, and baring teeth. Within the zebra herd, grooming is an opportunity for the zebras to bond. They use their teeth to nibble or bite each other’s fur to remove long hair and ticks while at the same time providing a good back scratch.