Lion vs Zebra: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Updated: January 24, 2023
© Arian
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The savannahs of Africa are home to many unique mammals. Two of the creatures that everyone knows from this part of the world are lions and zebras. At first thought, breaking down a lion vs zebra fight may appear to be a pointless mental exercise. Lions eat zebras all the time, right? That’s not quite how things play out in the wild, though.

This article will take a look at different facets of the lion and the zebra and show you why this fight might not be a simple open and shut case.

Comparing a Lion and a Zebra

Lions and zebras differ in their morphology, offensive capabilities, and predatory behaviors.
SizeWeight: 264 to 550 pounds
Height: 3 to 3.9 feet
Length: 4.7 to 8.2 feet
Weight: 485 to 900 pounds
Height: 3.8 to 5.25 feet
Length: 6.6 to 9 feet
Speed and Movement Type– 35 mph
– Potentially 40-50mph when closing on prey
– 35-40mph
DefensesStays with pride for safety in numbers
– Relatively large size as a carnivore frightens away many enemies
– Can quickly run away from enemies
– High speed can help them escape many predators
– Large size prevents them from being overwhelmed easily
Offensive Capabilities– Sharp claws can gash foes
– Paw strikes can deliver a powerful, staggering blow  
Strong biting power of 650 PSI- 1,000 PSI can splinter bones and tear prey open.
Sharp incisor teeth and molars in the back
– Unmeasured bite force, but enough power to tear through skin
– Will also use powerful kicks that are capable of outright killing foes
Predatory Behavior– Endurance predator or ambush predator
– Works as a group to take down prey
– None, this animal is an herbivore that grazes  

What Are Key Differences Between a Lion and a Zebra?

The key differences between a lion and a zebra lie in their morphology, offensive capabilities, and predatory behaviors. Lions are one of the “big cats,” and they use their long fangs and claws to attack prey using ambush tactics or endurance predation. Zebras are equine creatures that attack with strong bites and kicks but lack any predatory drive like herbivores.

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It’s easy to see how these animals are different, but that’s not enough to determine which of them is prepared to win a fight. We need to examine other factors that are relevant to the battle between these animals.

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between a Lion and a Zebra?

Like most other fights in the animal kingdom, the key factors in this battle are size, speed, aggression, fighting ability, and defenses. We will look at each of these factors independently and evaluate each animal relative to the other. Next, we’ll assign advantages to each creature, tally them up at the end, and then make a final determination about which animal has the highest chance of dominating the fight.  

Lion vs Zebra: Size

Safari Animals You MUST See: Zebra
Zebras have a bigger size than lions, weighing up to 900 pounds.

©Martin Prochazkacz/

Zebras are larger than lions. The average zebra weighs between 485lbs and 900lbs, stands up to 5ft tall, and measures 9ft long. A lion will only grow up to 550lbs at maximum, stand just shy of 4ft tall, and grow 4.7ft-8.2ft long. The size difference is substantial and very important to our evaluation.

Zebras have the size advantage over lions.

Lion vs Zebra: Speed and Movement

Lions are faster than zebras. The average lion can hit 35 mph, but they can push themselves slightly faster when closing on prey. Their maximum speed is between 40 mph and 50 mph. However, they cannot hold that speed long at all, and they only use it when they are almost certainly going to get prey.

However, a zebra can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, holding that speed for longer than a lion. The difference in their speeds is slight, but it can be life-saving when a lion is chasing down a zebra to try to eat it!

Lions have the speed advantage, but zebras have better endurance.

Lion vs Zebra: Defenses

The biggest defensive advantage that lions have is their pride, a group of other lions with whom they live. Few animals are brazen enough to saunter over to a group of lions and try to attack. Moreover, lions are very fast animals, and they are large for carnivorous beings. Nothing about them invites a challenge.

Zebras have their size and speed to stay safe, along with the fact that they travel in herds.

Lions have better defenses than zebras.

Lion vs Zebra: Offensive Capabilities

Zebra Teeth - Incisors
Zebras’ teeth allow them to deliver strong bites.

©Galovtsik Gabor/

Zebras have good offensive capabilities, but they don’t use them often since they are herbivores. These animals have sharp incisors and a strong enough bite to tear flesh. Sometimes, they will even use their bite to grab and launch an enemy with a sudden jerk of their head. However, the real power of zebras comes from their kicks. They can deliver powerful, deadly kicks to their foes.

Lions have profound offensive capabilities. They have claws that can gash foes, paw strikes that stagger enemies, and a bite that measures up to 1,000 PSI. While it’s not the strongest bite, these animals have incisor teeth that are almost four inches in length!

To make matters better for lions, they also have amazing senses. They can smell, hear, and see enemies from far away and then move in for the kill.

The lions have the advantage in terms of offensive power.

Lion vs Zebra: Predatory Abilities

Zebras completely lack predator instincts and abilities. They are herbivores that graze for food. However, lions utilize two different kinds of predation. They will engage in ambush predation when hunting alone or as the opening salvo when hunting in a group.

Lions can also use endurance predation, striking and retreating with other members of their pride to wear down their prey until it can no longer resist.

Lions have the advantage in predatory abilities.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between a Lion and a Zebra?

Strongest cats - Lion
Lions are powerful creatures that are hard for their prey to overcome.


A lion would win a fight against a zebra. Although that shouldn’t be a surprise, we feel it’s necessary to tell you that lions don’t always win these fights. Most of the time, lions attack in groups to take down large prey. They ambush a zebra and use their power and aggressiveness to bring it to the ground.

Lions’ hunts are not always successful. When hunting alone, these apex predators can bring down their prey in less than 20% of all cases. When hunting together, that number rises to about 30%. Many times, they’re kicked and brushed off by foes.  

In a one-on-one attack, the fight will be different. For one thing, a lion could ambush the zebra and kill it with a well-placed bite to the neck like many other big cats. Yet, if the lion and zebra were fighting on a level playing field without an ambush, the battle would be different.

The lion has to get close enough to the zebra to land several attacks to kill the larger creature. Of course, lions are more than capable of doing this, but it only takes one kick for a zebra to knock a lion unconscious.

The only thing is that zebras don’t really have the instincts to attack and kill a lion. They want to flee. So, in the vast majority of cases, a persistent lion is going to kill a zebra. Don’t always count out the zebra, though. Zebras have been known to send lions down in a heap after landing a good kick to the jaw, head, or neck.

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About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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