Can Zebras Swim, Float, or Do They Sink?

Swimming for Zebras? There is a lot of confusion surrounding this as people want to know whether Zebras can swim or not. Many people restrict swimming to aquatic animals but it is not true many other animals are good swimmers as well. It is hard to imagine these big animals swimming, most of us believe that lightweight aquatic animals can only swim.

Can Zebras Swim?

Yes, they can. It might surprise you most mammals have a natural instinct to swim. It may shock you but they are good swimmers. Zebras migrate to places with better grass fields, therefore, their journey may require them to cross rivers and streams on their way. Zebras swim effortlessly and they quite love it.

Similar to horses or other prey species, Zebras are always on the move, either to escape danger or search for new grazing, it has become a natural herd movement where they cross rivers, mountains, and jungles to reach a new place.

There are a lot of dangers lurking beyond the surface, Zebras often have to fight their way through the crocodiles and other dangerous sea creatures. Zebras are not weak either, they put up a good fight, even while swimming.

Do Zebras Like to Swim?

On a hot summer day, they dissipate heat by swimming in the pond. They love water, it is the only way to ward off heat in their habitat. They usually go for a swim daily in the Summers. Not all Zebras love swimming as much as others, just like human beings. Some Zebras just do not like getting wet. 

How do Zebras Swim?

While swimming, Zebras keep forward momentum which makes their body stay afloat. They move their front legs to swim, quite similar to trotting. Zebras keep their head above water, they do not know how to hold their breath underwater. They can drown if they drop their head below the water. 

When swimming in shallow water, they usually paddle their way forward, once they enter deep water, Zebras swim like they are trotting on dry land. Also, deep rivers and high water current can be dangerous for them as they may lose their balance and stability in panic.

How long can Zebras Swim?

Swimming can be tiring for the Zebras because of the water-resistance. They can not swim for a longer period, if they are just cooling off heat in a nearby pond, they will swim more or less 20 minutes. When migrating through the rivers for new grazing fields, they may have to swim for a longer time. 

They usually do not rest when crossing rivers, may take a few minutes to break once they reach the other side. If they are just chilling in the pond, Zebras do not take more than 10 to 20 minutes. 

Can Zebras Swim in Deep Waters?

Zebras, being good swimmers, can swim in deep waters but it is not without risk. The uncertainty of depth and dangers just increases the chance of losing direction, or even worse, drowning. Swimming in shallow water gives a unique fun experience without them having to worry about considerable threats. As the water gets deep, it is possible that even the littlest thing can send the Zebras into a panic.

Read more fun facts like What do zebras eat?

Can Zebras Swim in the Open Sea?

They can, but it will no longer be a recreational activity that can turn out to a be terrifying experience for Zebras, making them afraid of water for their upcoming ventures. Zebras are alert and responsive animals, a little distraction will be costly, especially when they are in an unforgiving ocean. A moving fish, loud boats, underwater obstacles all can distract them from their direction and make them lose their balance.


How Swimming Helps Them Stay Fit?

Swimming is a miraculous activity with several benefits. You must have come across a post stating why swimming is good for Human beings, it is not just a recreational activity, include it in your fitness regimen and see the benefits yourself.

Swimming is as beneficial for animals as for humans. It has a long-lasting effect on animal’s health. Zebras and horses, being natural swimmers, enjoy the benefit of this fun fitness session. No trainer, boring exercise, just a little ‘trout’ in the water. Zebras can maintain their health just by going for a swim. How cool is that? 

Zebras tend to enjoy swimming more in shallow waters, depth will just scare them and they probably drown in panic. Here is how swimming helps Zebras stay fit. Do you know zebras like horses can swim?

  • Fitness – Swimming is known to improve Zebra’s fitness, endurance, and stamina. It also increases their flexibility. Swimming in water is not as easy as walking on dry land. Due to water resistance, Zebras have to work harder to make it through. Many studies show that it helps boost blood sugar and blood insulin levels.(Source)
  • Strengthen Muscles – Water Resistance helps in building muscle strength while increasing the capacity of the heart and lungs. Swimming strengthens and tones muscles by giving them room to stretch resulting in improved muscle symmetry, core balance, and flexibility.
  • Treat Injuries – If the Zebra has been injured during an ugly fight and suffers multiple wounds, swimming can help cure them. Water is known for its healing properties, it reduces pain and helps in the speedy recovery.
  • Rehabilitation – Being inhabitants of the wild, Zebras do not have the luxury to go for different therapies to heal. Hydrotherapy is provided to donkeys and horses suffering from leg and tendon injuries and muscle damage. Zebras finding themselves in difficult situations like these can heal quicker with swimming. The effectiveness of this treatment lies in the fact that it does not put unnecessary strain on injury, speeding up the healing process in a natural way.
  • Improves Cardiovascular Respiratory System – Swimming enhances the systemic circulation by contracting and relaxing the heart at the same time. It does not just improve the contractility of the heart but lower down the production of lactic acid which is responsible for muscle fatigue.
  • Entertainment – It counts among the few sources of entertainment in the wild, particularly when the day gets too hot to bear, Zebras do enjoy a good swimming session. The fun aspect of swimming should not be overlooked, being a good exercise, it helps boost confidence and fitness. Seeing a group of Zebras chilling in a pond makes for a good sight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Zebras Love Water?

Zebras love water not just for swimming but also for drinking. They are known to drink a gallon of water at one time. During the dry season, they migrate from one place to another following rain. They can survive 5 days without drinking water.

Where do Zebras Get Water?

Zebras migrate in search of water and food. Living conditions in the wild are not always favorable, during winter and summer, animals have to either migrate or change their lifestyle a certain way. During the dry season when water is a rare commodity, Zebras move near the Boteti River to get regular water.

Putting it all together, Zebras are good swimmers, being constantly on the move has made them even better at it. They cross many streams and rivers every year to go to a better grazing field. However, it is not without risks and uncertainties, they surely put their lives at risk when crossing deadly rivers. However, a fun day at the pond never hurts.


Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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