Black with white stripes. Some zebras have white fur on their bellies, which suggests that white is the background colour and the black stripes are a pattern that is added. But if you shaved a zebra, you would find a black-skinned animal underneath. As a zebra embryo develops in the uterus, it starts out black all over. The white stripes emerge afterwards as the genes that code for the dark pigment melanin are selectively deactivated for the hair follicles that cover certain areas of skin. This serves as effective camouflage.