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Can You Domesticate a Zebra?

Zebras can be trained, but they cannot be truly domesticated. Domesticated animals tend to share seven characteristics, including flexible dietary needs, a reasonable growth rate, a reasonable size, a friendly disposition and an unlikeliness to panic. The other characteristics that most domestic animals share are comfortableness with being bred in captivity and a social hierarchy. Zebras fail this criteria on at least two counts, because they get more aggressive as they age and have a tendency to panic.

More facts about zebras and domestication:

  • Although it not possible to domesticate a zebra, several close relatives of the zebra can be domesticated, including horses, donkeys and the extinct quagga.

  • There are several instances of trained zebras throughout history. The second Baron Rothschild used to use a team of six zebras to draw a carriage — though one of those zebras later fatally injured a groom — and Captain Horace Hayes wrote that he trained a zebra to let him ride on it in two days.

  • There's a difference between a tame animal and a domesticated one. Any individual animal theoretically can be tamed, even if the species as a whole cannot be domesticated.

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