Zebras are “horses in pajamas” - they are both members of the Equidae family (known as equids)
Why do zebras have stripes?
There are several theories. One hypothesis is that stripes cause biting flies problems when trying to locate and land to bite . Think of an airplane landing at the airport - the runway is very clear and marked. But what if there were many landing markings everywhere - like a zebra’s stripes. And it all moved around! The flies could get dazzled by those moving landing stripes and not land. This stops the biting…and this stops disease!
This experimentally has been shown to be true. On dried skins, more biting flies land on solid colored hides than striped ones.
What we don’t yet know is the mechanism by which fly vision gets confused.
Or maybe it is to confuse predators?
When zebras pack together as a group, do predators get visually confused? A lion might be dazzled by a big pile of criss-crossing lines, not knowing where one zebra ends and another begins. It’s hard to pick out an individual zebra to attack.
Could it be to keep cool?
Black and white stripes and hair on the zebra’s skin create small currents of air… acting like an air conditioner in the sun.
Dr. Daniel Rubenstein is a world-renowned research scientist at Princeton University. He tests this theory by placing black tape on donkeys to find cooling effects of small convection currents between the black and white stripes. This is on-going in Kenya, Africa.
If you look closely, you see a ribbon around each donkey. What do you think the ribbon is for?Tire inner tubes hold a wifi thermometer over each donkey heart. This device records and sends Dr. Rubenstein core body temperature to see if the striped ones have lower core temperature than the regular beige ones.
So, say you are a young zebra, happily eating in the grass. You hear a lion growl. What do you do?
Dr. Rubenstein and his team built an artificial lion built on a robot frame - he calls this the ROBO-LION. Using a remote, his team drives the Robo-lion into herds of African zebras to understand zebras’ evasive actions to danger. He uses data from flying drones to create computer models to understand this behavior.
What does the science say? Zebras are social, protective animals like us. As zebra herds run from the danger, they protect the young. At the first sight of danger, the young zebras start to gallop away, followed by the mother zebras to help guide them. Other members of the herd follow. The male parent zebras follow last. This approach maximizes the protection of the younger zebras.
The young are protected by a tightly moving group and are safely kept furthest from the lions. Like us, zebras are social. Adults protect younger zebras from danger.
The Robolion Experiments - Adult Zebras Investigate Threats
The Zebra Simulator - Adult Zebras BLOCK Threats
What is child abuse?
Abuse means a lot of things, but in general it is when someone hurts us physically, bullies us, touches our private parts or shows us their private parts. Abuse is against the rules and it can cause harm to you or to others. Abuse is never ok.
What do you do if abused?
Like adult zebras caring for their young, there are adult people in your community who care for you and keep you safe from abuse. If you are being abused, find a trusted, safe adult and tell them about your situation. You find protection from the adults who take care of you and that you trust - like a zebra! Abuse is an adult problem, and it’s adults' job to help.
Abuse is not your fault. Trusted, safe adults can help you if you let them know you need help in the event of an abuse situation. If things don’t change, keep telling all your safe adults about the abuse until they take action.
Who is a safe adult?
A safe adult is someone over the age of 18 who you know has your back and cares about you. This could be your mom, dad, teacher, grandparent, school counselor, doctor, or anyone you trust in your 'herd.' These are the people who believe in you, keep you safe, and would not hurt you.
What if your friend tells you they are abused?