To humans, a zebra’s stripes stick out like a sore thumb, so it’s hard to imagine that the stripes act as camouflage. Zoologists believe stripes offer zebras protection from predators in a couple of different ways.
One way is as simple pattern-camouflage, much like the type the military uses in its fatigue design. The wavy lines of a zebra blend in with the wavy lines of the tall grass around it.
It doesn’t matter that the zebra’s stripes are black and white and the lines of the grass are yellow, brown or green, because the zebra’s main predator, the lion, is colorblind.
The pattern of the camouflage is much more important than its color, when hiding from these predators. If a zebra is standing still in matching surroundings, a lion may overlook it completely.
To help illustrate this concept, we hid zebras in grass and with some imagination, set up scenarios where the lions couldn’t find them! Students enjoyed manipulating their toys in a variety of ways, creating new stories as they went!