While some experts believe that the stripes are mainly for identification, others believe that the stripes may have different functions:
- The zebra's main predator, the lion, is color blind. Theoretically, a zebra, camouflaged in tall grass through the vertical striping when standing still, may therefore not be noticed at all by a lion.
- Zebras are herd animals and so the stripes may help to confuse predators. A number of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large animal, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out any single zebra to attack.
- The zebra's disruptive colouration may also be an effective way of confusing the visual system of the blood-sucking tsetse fly.
- the stripes coincide with fat patterning beneath the skin, serving as a thermoregulatory mechanism for the zebra