Do Zebras Laugh? (What Does It Mean?)

by Chukay Alex
Updated on

Humans start laughing as early as 3 months into life, even before they can speak. This is true even for babies who are deaf or blind. 

Surprisingly several non-human species demonstrate vocalizations that sound similar to human laughter.

A significant proportion of these species are mammals, which suggests that the neurological functions occurred early in the process of mammalian evolution.

A lot of persons are quite certain that dogs and rats laugh, but aren’t so sure about zebras. This brings us to our topic today “Do Zebras laugh?” Let’s find out!

Do Zebras Laugh? 

Yes, zebras laugh, zebras are vocal animals, with each sound meaning something different. 

These striped animals are known for making different sounds which they use in expressing themselves and communicating to their species.

Zebras will raise their noses in the air and curl their upper lip towards the sky, revealing their upper teeth. In this state, they look like they are having a good laugh.

Many animals respond in characteristic ways by displaying noticeable physical changes in response to a physical stimulus, like tickling.

Some of these animals include camels, dogs, owls, and penguins

Want to find out more amazing facts about zebras, then, keep reading!

Here is an article I wrote on do zebras hibernate?

Why Do Zebras Laugh?

Laughter serves a social function. It is a way for us to signal to another person that we wish to connect with them.

This is not different for zebras, zebras laugh to express excitement and contentment.

Just the same way you can easily tell a dog is sad; it’s also easy to tell when zebras are not happy. They make sounds and body movements that further express their displeasure.

Laughter isn’t just important to humans; it has a huge effect on the health of animals as well. Here are some benefits of laughing to zebras.

  • Laughter can increase oxygen intake, which can, in turn, stimulate the zebras’ heart, lungs, and muscles.
  • Laughing releases endorphins, shocking right? Yes, animals have endorphins too. This feel-good chemical that the zebras’ body produces makes it feel happy and even relieves pain or stress. 
  • Laughter is also good for the heart of zebras. The act of increasing and then decreasing heart rate and blood pressure through laughter is also ultimately calming and tension-relieving. 
  • Laughter can even boost their immune system response through the release of stress-and illness-reducing neuropeptides.

It is definite that laughter is a key aspect of zebra survival, and promotes a healthier body.

What Is The Cry Of Zebra Called?

The cry of a zebra is either called a neigh, groan, or wail. Zebras’ can neigh for a couple of reasons;

  • Zebras neigh when they are trying to raise an alarm of an attack by a predator. Neigh can also be referred to as whinnying. Neigh is a distress call.
  • However, they also whine or neigh when they are trying to catch the attention of or find other zebras.
  • Another reason that zebras may make this noise is to help calm their anxiety.

Groaning is not uncommon for zebras as well.

  • A zebra could groan when in pain, they can cry out in a groan.
  • They will readily scream when they get into a fight with another zebra or after being severely injured. Domestic zebra are more protected from predators and natural elements that could injure them.
  • Zebras also scream if they have excruciating internal pain due to an injury or illness.

Wailings are drawn-out cries mainly from young zebra in distress or pain.

Also check out this article I wrote on do zebras sleep standing up

Are Zebras Friendly?

As much as zebras are social animals, they aren’t friendly with humans. They see humans as threats, so their guards are always up when humans are in view.

The aggressive nature of zebras could be because they live in large groups in an environment full of predators.

This increases their strong survival instinct, making them considerably less friendly to humans even to horses and donkeys.

Unlike horses that are domestic pets, zebras are very aggressive and a lot more dangerous.

All of this means that zebras are not really people friendly and as such, they do not fit the criteria for domestication.

Zebras have been known to kick each other to death, they will viciously bite any human that comes too close.

This may come as a shock, but there are even many accounts of zebras killing lions.

However, it isn’t entirely impossible to domesticate zebras. The trick to it is that you’ll have to domesticate an individual zebra and not groups of zebras.

How Do Zebras Communicate?

Communication is when one zebra transmits information to another zebra or a group of zebras.

Communication in this sense is usually between animals of a single species, but it can also happen between two animals of different species.

Communication behaviors can help zebras find mates, establish dominance, defend territory, coordinate group behavior, and care for their young.

Interestingly, zebras are highly intelligent and social animals, so it is understandable that they too can communicate their feelings.

Zebras communicate using signals, which can include;

  • Visual that is auditory or sound-based. Vocal sounds play a huge important role in the communication between zebras.
  • Pheromones
  • Tactile which are usually touch-based and cues.

What Sound Does a Zebra Make?

This bark sound is usually mistaken for that of a dog. However, the two are very much different, zebras’ bark is distinct and can be loud. 

  • Bray:  Zebras bray to express anger and frustration. This sound can come in low baritones or a high-pitched sound. Depending on the situation, it can either be loud or soft.

They also use braying noises as a way of communicating with their mates. Zebras bray much like donkeys do. However, a zebra’s bray has a wider range of sound. It starts in a very low pitch like a large cat growling and ends very high almost like a squealing pig.  

  • Snort:  This is a short, sharp burst of air that travels through a zebra’s nostrils. Snorting can also be a warning to unwelcome herd guests. The snort is often quite loud. 

If a zebra snorts while calm, the sound indicates a friendly greeting. This sound is not a very polite noise, yet it’s common with donkeys and horses too. And although it sounds rude, it can be a friendly greeting given by a happy zebra. 

However, if a zebra snorts while it is visibly tense or aggressive, the snort serves as a warning to others. A snort can also signal curiosity, disinterest, or danger.

  • Nicker: A nicker is a soft blow of air through the nose and lips. Zebras use the nicker upon greeting. The sound is typically reserved for members of the same herd. Mothers also nicker to their young.


Zebras are amongst the list of non-human creatures that can laugh.

Zebras are vocal animals that express themselves with different sounds like nicker, barks, brays, and snort.

These sounds express and communicate different things in the zebra kingdom.

Laughter is also as important and beneficial to animals as it is to humans. Laughter relieves pain, stress, and tension in zebras too.  

Although zebras are sociable animals, they are not friendly to humans. They see humans as threats and would most likely defend themselves against humans.

These creatures have proven to be quite strong as research shows that they are capable of killing a lion.  

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About the author

Chukay Alex

Chukay is a season writer and farmer who enjoys farming and growing plants in his backyard farm. When he is not farming you can find him at the nearest lawn tennis court, hitting a mean backhand down the line.


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