Zebras are part of the horse family. They look like them but are shorter with a different aesthetic.
So, you must be wondering why haven’t humans domesticated zebra?
It is possible to mount zebras, but they can never be domesticated. Here are a few reasons why zebras can’t be tamed.
Domesticated animals belong to species that have been modified with human intervention. Selectively breeding animals and conditioning to create dependence on certain foods have made animals rely on humans completely. It makes them comply with human’s every whim. Be it pulling a cart or jumping the fence.
Domestication is when we take wild species and tame them completely. We make them get used to living with us humans. However, it is a learning process and takes a long time. The learning process has to be repeated after every generation. This is the reason we have only been able to domesticate a few species from the entire animal kingdom.
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Here are five animals that have come to depend on human beings:
Animals must have six traits in common to be domesticated:
- Animals aren’t picky eaters
- Animals can grow up fast
- Animals have a social hierarchy. It means humans can act as leaders of the group.
- Animals can breed in captivity
- Animals don’t panic. Important for when they are kept in captivity
- Animals are pleasant. It means they don’t attack humans when they feed them.
When all six traits are present in an animal species, only then can they be domesticated. However, if even one of the traits is missing, the species can’t be domesticated. That is the case with zebras.
Reasons Why Zebras Can Never be Domesticated
- Zebras tend to be very aggressive and hostile and, therefore, can’t be domesticated easily.
- Zebras duck, making them difficult to lasso
- Zebras don’t have a hierarchy or family structure, unlike horses, who have herds. Just because zebras are in groups doesn’t mean they have family or friends. It is simply a survival technique these species have adapted over millions of years to avoid predators. If one of the zebras gets attacked, the rest don’t care too much because there is no concept of camaraderie in the species.
- Zebras are essentially a food source for apex predators like lions. Since their days involve escaping predators on a daily basis, they have learned to become quick and aggressive with their kicks. A zebra’s kick can easily kill a loin. Humans don’t want to be attacked by a zebra, and that’s why they steer clear of them.
- Zebras are also much smaller than horses. Their backs aren’t evolved to carry human beings, let alone carry a huge cargo or saddle. Even if this was not the case, it would still be impossible to domesticate them because we’d cause them pain by riding them.
There have been instances of tamed zebras in the early 19th century. Walter Rothschild, a British banker, domesticated zebras. He would ride the carriage pulled by zebras in Edwardian London. Bill Turner has also been known to tame zebras and ride them around Dorset.
While horses do work harder, live in an urbanized lifestyle, and do whatever their owners want them to do, they lead more comfortable and safer lives. The horse species was saved from going extinct because of domestication.
Domestication worked for the global population of horses. There are over 50 million horses in the world today. Compared to those numbers, the population of Zebras is fewer than 800,000, and humans pose the greatest threat to their survival.
This is why zebras can never be domesticated. Some wild animals are better off staying in the wild where we can admire them from afar doing what they do best. In the case of zebras, that’s eating grass and being feisty.