ZEBRA

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Chapman's Zebra

Equus burchelli chapmani

A subspecies of common zebras with fainter stripes between main stripes

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"The Chapman zebras, on the whole, I found to be very dull animals. They formed an attractive pattern against the grass of their vast enclosure but appeared to do nothing of interest except graze and occasionally have little bickering fights with each other when, with ears back and teeth bared, they would threaten each other. The stallions, to a man, were determined to try and kill you, and as they could move with ferocious speed you always had to be on your guard. ..."

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Grevy's Zebra

Equus grevyi

The largest zebra. An endangered zebra from East Africa

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" ...There was one zebra, however, that I did like. This was a solitary male gravvy. These are the biggest of all the zebra and their body shape is more like a horse; their head is long and elegant, and though it bears a superficial resemblance to a donkey's head it is really more like that of an Arab stallion with a fine, delicate, velvety muzzle. The stripes are thin and very regular, as though drawn with a ruler, and the ears are enormous, like huge furry Arum lilies. This particular zebra was, as far as I know, the only one of its kind in England and apart from its beauty and gentleness of disposition, its rarity entitled me to give it extra rations of crushed oats which it would take delicately from my hand with lips that were as soft as the mushroom tops that grew in its paddock."

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Hartmann's Mountain Zebra

Equus zebra hartmannae

An endangered zebra with a dewlap under the neck and grid-iron markings on the rump...

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Zebra

Photographed at Cincinnati Zoo © D. Byrd

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."As I pursued my reading, I began to learn with horror of man's rapacious encroachment upon the world and the terrible devastation that he was producing among animal life. I read of the dodo, flightless and harmless, discovered and exterminated in almost the same breath. I read of the passenger pigeon in North America whose vast numbers darkened the sky, who were so numerous that their nesting colonies measured several hundred square miles. They were good to eat; the last one died in Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.  The quagga, that strange half-horse, half-zebra once so common in South Africa, was harried to extinction by the Boer farmers;  the last quagga died in London Zoo in 1909. It seemed incredible, almost impossible, that people in charge of zoos should have been so ignorant that they did not realise that these animals were tottering on the border of extinction and that they did not do something about it. Surely this was one of the true functions of a zoological garden, to help animals that were being pushed towards extinction?"

Quotations from BEASTS IN MY BELFRY © Gerald Durrell 1973

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