Zebra

Zebra  (Equus zebra ).—The true zebra is a native of South Africa; lives in troops, and is very swift and savage, and therefore difficult to tame. Its general color is creamy white, marked with black cross-stripes everywhere except the belly. The Quagga, its nearest relative, has legs and entire hind-quarters unstriped. It is hunted by the natives for the sake of its beautiful fur and its savory flesh and is also a favorite food of the lion.

Zebra and Young

M RS. ZEBRA, standing with her baby by her side, asks proudly of the lookers-on, “Did you ever see such a likeness?” and certainly mother and child are very much alike, striped all over their bodies, from head to foot, and from nose to tail, with the same regular marks of black. Strong and wild by nature, the zebra family are left very much to themselves, which is a source of great happiness to the mother and child in the picture before us. “No! no! my baby is not going to become as tame as the donkey, or to draw carts and carriages like the horse; it is to have its freedom, and go just where it likes all over these large plains;”—so says Mrs. Zebra, and she means it too, for if anybody took the trouble to go all the way to the hot country of Africa, where Mrs. Zebra is at home, and tried to carry off her baby, they would find their journey a vain one, and that she would kick severely, and perhaps break the legs of the person bold enough to take away her darling.

So near to the horses that they belong to the same genus (Equus) are the zebras, which differ mainly in their brighter coloring, less bushy tail, "roached" manes, and lack of those callosities called "chestnuts" on the hind legs. The zebras are exclusively African, and include two types, a southern and a northern. The true zebra, now extinct, except where kept and bred in captivity, belonged to the mountains near the Cape of Good Hope, was only about twelve hands high, and had black stripes on a white ground.

In the more open parts of Africa, north to Lake Rudolph, roamed Burchell's variety of this zebra, the one now commonly seen in menageries, in which the coat is creamy or golden yellow, and the black stripes are far broader. Its northern variety, Grevy's zebra, has the black stripes narrower, but so much more numerous that the white shows as mere lines between them. To these must be added an extinct species, killed off many years ago by Boer farmers and other sportsmen, which was known as the "quaha" (quagga) from its barking neigh; it was a dark brown, with stripings only on the head and neck.

The zebras seem incapable of becoming useful in harness or under the saddle, but their very near relatives, the asses—in spite of the sober gray of their dress, and their ungainly ears—have given us the patient and enduring donkey, which has been a servant of mankind, at least in Egypt, ever since the date of the earliest monuments; and wild asses still flourish on the deserts of Africa from Algiers to Somaliland. Another somewhat larger and more variable species roams the upland plains of Persia and northern India, while a variety, the "kiang," lives on the arctic tableland of Tibet, and is as untamable a creature as can be imagined.

BURCHELL'S ZEBRA OF NORTHERN CENTRAL AFRICA