It’s been ages since we had a Waterhole Wednesday. The last one was in December when it was looking pretty dry around the waterhole. Well, the rain came, everything turned green and since there has been water everywhere in the reserve the popularity of our little waterhole has dwindled a bit. However we have been thrilled to have this herd of zebra around the house recently. When we arrived here, almost three years ago, the zebra were extremely nervous and it was difficult to get a good view of them so it has been incredibly satisfying to see how tame this herd has become. We can get quite close to them without scaring them off and one has even given birth close to our home. In honor of these lovely animals, I thought I would share some zebra facts for kids (as well as some theories and crafts).
We have Boehm’s Zebra in Malawi which differ from Burchell’s Zebra in Southern Africa because they don’t have shadow stripes and their stripes stay dark and defined all the way down to their hooves. A shadow strip is a thinner brown stripe in between the black and white stripes, like in the zebra below from Southern Africa.
There is a big debate and numerous theories as to why zebra have stripes. I don’t believe any of these theories have been proven as the single determining factor but they are all interesting and perhaps relevant in some way:
- Stripes might confuse predators and make it difficult for them to pick an individual out of the herd
- In some situations and certain lighting they could act as camouflage
- They may help the zebra recognize each other
- The black stripes get hotter than the white stripes and might set up a micro climate that moves air to cool the zebra
- The black and white stripes might deter tsetse flies that spread trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness)
Regardless of the evolutionary reason for the black and white stripes, they are certainly a stunning contrast to the green bush around our home.
The girls and I enjoyed watching the zebra so much that we decided to make zebra masks. I used this zebra craft at DLTK’s Crafts for Kids as a guide. You can print out all the pieces you need to add to your paper plate there but we wanted our masks NOW and I didn’t have access to a printer so I just cut the pieces we needed out of black construction paper and white printer paper.
Happy long overdue Waterhole Wednesday!