The Zebra by Francis C. Woodworth


Probably there is no animal so beautiful, and that possesses so much ability for being serviceable to man, that is nevertheless so useless, except for its beauty, as the zebra. One would suppose, to look at the fellow—and doubtless this is the fact—that he could perform much of the labor of the horse. But he is generally quite indisposed to any such routine of employment. He is very fond of his own way—so fond of it, indeed, that the most patient and persevering efforts to teach him to change it are generally almost fruitless. The entire race are any thing but docile. They are tamed, so as to obey the bridle, only with great difficulty; and their obedience is rather imperfect, at best. Bingley mentions one which was brought from the Cape of Good Hope to the tower of London, in 1803, who was more docile and kindly disposed than most of the species. When in pretty good humor, this animal would carry her keeper from fifty to a hundred yards; but he could never prevail upon her to go any farther. He might beat her as much as he pleased; she would not budge an inch, but would rear up and kick, until her rider was obliged to get off. When she got angry, as she did sometimes, she would plunge at her keeper, and on one occasion she seized him by the coat, threw him upon the ground, and would undoubtedly have killed him, had he not been very active, so that he got out of her reach.

The most docile zebra on record was one that was burned, accidentally, in England, several years ago, with several other animals belonging to a lyceum. This animal allowed his keeper to use great familiarities with him—to put children on his back, even, without showing any resentment. On one occasion, a person rode on his back a mile or two. This zebra had been raised in Portugal.