In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were two foremost breeds of zebrules or zebroids. Unlike earlier hybrids, Professor James Cossar Ewart (Scotland) and the Baron de Parana (Brazil) experimented with zebra stallions mated to a variety of pure-blooded mares of different breeds. The docility, strength and hardiness of the offspring led to high hopes that they would replace the stubborn ass-mules that were prone to various diseases in exotic climes. In particular, the zebrules were considered for use in expeditions and war, or for carriage work. So why didn’t they catch on? It’s likely that zebra stallions were harder to keep and manage than jack donkeys/asses, making large scale production of zebra-mules more difficult.


PROFESSOR EWART'S PENYCUIK EXPERIMENTS - Popular Science Monthly Volume 57 June 1900

THE views and works of Darwin have influenced in an unexpected way the nature of the work carried on by biological investigators during the latter end of this fast-dying century. To a great extent, while generally holding the doctrines he held, they have forsaken his methods of inquiry.

If animals and plants have arrived at their present state by descent with modification from simpler forms, it ought to be possible by careful searching to trace the line of ancestry; and it is this fascinating but frequently futile pursuit which has dominated the minds of many of our ablest zoologists for the last thirty years. To such an extent has this pedigree hunting been carried that there is scarcely a group of invertebrates from which the vertebrates have not been theoretically derived; and to-day one of the ablest of our physiologists is using his great powers in the attempt to trace the origin of the backboned animals from a spiderlike creature, and is exercising his ingenuity in a plausible but unconvincing effort to equate the organs of a king-crab with those of a lamprey. This appeal to comparative anatomy and the consequent neglect of living animals and their habits are no doubt partly due to the influence of Huxley, Darwin's most brilliant follower and exponent. He had the engineer's way of looking at the world, and his influence was paramount in many schools. The trend which biology has taken since Darwin's time is also partly due to a fervent belief in the recapitulation theory, according to which an animal in developing from the egg passes through phases which resemble certain stages in the past history of the ancestors of the animal. For example, there is no doubt that both birds and mammals are descended from some fishlike animal that lived in the water and breathed by gills borne on slits in the gullet, and every bird and mammal passes through a stage in which these gill-slits are present, though their function is lost and they soon close up and disappear. In the hope, which has been but partially realized, that a knowledge of the stages through which an animal passes on its path from the ovum to the adult would throw light on the origin of the race, the attention of zoölogists has been largely concentrated on details of embryology, and a mass of facts has already been accumulated which threatens to overwhelm the worker.

The two chief factors which play a part in the origin of species are heredity and variation, and until we know more about the laws which govern these factors we cannot hope to arrive at any satisfactory criteria by which we can estimate the importance of the data accumulated for us by comparative anatomists and embryologists. Signs are not wanting that this view is beginning to be appreciated. The publication of 'Materials for the Study of Variation’ by Mr. Bateson, a few years ago, shows that there exists a small but active school of workers in this field; and the recent congress on hybridization, held in London under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society, is evidence that in America, on the Continent and in Great Britain one of the most important sides of heredity is being minutely and extensively explored. Prof. Cossar Ewart's experiments, which we shall attempt to summarize, deal with heredity and cognate matters, and, although they are so far from complete that the results hitherto obtained can not be regarded as final, they mark an important stage in the history of the subject.

Five years ago Professor Ewart began to collect material for the study of the embryology of the horse, about which, owing to the costliness of the necessary investigations, very little is at present known. At the same time he determined to inquire into certain theories of heredity which have for centuries influenced the breeders of horses and cattle, and the belief in which has played a large part in the production of our more highly bred domestic animals. Foremost among these is the view widely held among breeders that a sire influences all the later progeny of a dam which has once produced a foal to him. This belief in the 'infection of the germ,' or 'throwing-back' to a previous sire, is probably an old one — possibly as old as the similar faith in maternal impressions which led Jacob to place peeled wands before the cattle and sheep of his father-in-law Laban. The phenomenon has recently been endowed with a new name — Telegony. Since the publication of Lord Morton's letter to Dr. W. H. Wollaston, President of the Royal Society, in 1820, it has attracted the attention not only of practical breeders, but of theoretical men of science. The supporters of telegony, when pressed by opponents, having almost always fallen back on Lord Morton's mare, it will be well to recall the chief incidents in the history of this classic animal.

It appears that early in this century Lord Morton was desirous of domesticating the quagga. He succeeded in obtaining a male, but, failing to procure a female, he put him to a young chestnut mare, of seven eighths Arab blood, which had never been bred from before. The result was the production of a female hybrid apparently intermediate in character between the sire and the dam. A short time afterward Lord Morton sold his mare to Sir Gore Ouseley, who bred from her by a fine black Arabian horse. The offspring of this union, which were examined by Lord Morton, were a two-year-old filly and a year-old colt.

He describes them as having "the character of the Arabian breed as decidedly as can be expected where fifteen sixteenths of the blood are Arabian, and they are fine specimens of that breed; but both in their color and in the hair of their manes they have a striking resemblance to the quagga." The description of the stripes visible on their coats is careful and circumstantial, but the evidence of the nature of the mane is less convincing: "Both their manes are black; that of the filly is short, stiff, and stands upright, and Sir Gore Ouseley's stud groom alleged that it never was otherwise. That of the colt is long, but so stiff as to arch upward and to hang clear of the sides of the neck, in which circumstance it resembles that of the hybrid."

This is the classical, we might almost say the test, case of telegony: the offspring resembled not so much the sire as an earlier mate of the dam. The facts related tended to confirm the popular view, and that view is widely spread. Arab breeders act on the belief, and it is so strongly implanted in the minds of certain English breeders that they make a point of mating their mares first with stallions having a good pedigree, so that their subsequent progeny may benefit by its influence, even though poorly bred sires are subsequently resorted to.

The evidence of Lord Morton's mare convinced Darwin of the existence of telegony; after a careful review of the case he says "there can be no doubt that the quagga affected the character of the offspring subsequently got by the black Arabian horse." Darwin, however, latterly came to the conclusion that telegony only occurred rarely, and some years before his death expressed the opinion that it was "a very occasional phenomenon." Agassiz believed in telegony. He was strongly of the opinion "that the act of fecundation is not an act which is limited in its effects, but that it is an act which affects the whole system, the sexual system especially; and in the sexual system the ovary to be impregnated hereafter is so modified by the first act that later im- pregnations do not efface that first impression."

Romanes also believed that telegony occasionally occurred. He paid a good deal of attention to the matter, commenced experiments in the hope of settling the question, and corresponded at length on this subject with professional and amateur breeders and fanciers. The result of his investigations led him to the conclusion "that the phenomenon is of much less frequent occurrence than is generally supposed. Indeed, it is so rare that I doubt whether it takes place in more than one or two per cent of cases." A recent controversy in the Contemporary Review shows us that Mr. Herbert Spencer is a firm upholder of telegony, and that he has a theory of his own as to the mode in which it is brought about. He suggests that some 'germ-plasm' passes from the embryo into the mother and becomes a permanent part of her body, and that this is diffused throughout her whole structure until it affects, among other organs, the reproductive glands. This view, which in some respects recalls the pangenesis of Darwin, is intermediate between the saturation and the infection hypothesis. Professor Ewart refers to it as indirect infection.

Weismann, to whom we owe the term telegony, came to consider the facts for and against its existence in connection with his well- known inquiry into the inheritance of acquired characters. If telegony be true, there is no need to look further for a clear case of the in- heritance of a character which has been acquired during the lifetime of the parent. The quagga-ness — if one may be permitted to use such an expression — of Lord Morton's mare was acquired when she was put to the quagga or shortly afterward, and was transmitted to her foals. A clearer case of a character acquired during lifetime and transmitted to offspring could not be imagined. Weismann does not absolutely deny the possibility of the existence of telegony, but he would like more evidence. In the Contemporary Review he writes, "I must say that to this day, and in spite of the additional cases brought forward by Spencer and Romanes, I do not consider that telegony has been proved." And further: "I should accept a case like that of Lord Morton's mare as satisfactory evidence if it were quite certainly beyond doubt. But that is by no means the case, as Settegast has abundantly proved." He would, in fact, refer the case to reversion, and quotes Settegast to the effect that every horse breeder is well aware that the cases are not rare when colts are born with stripes which recall the markings of a quagga or zebra. We shall return to this point later.

A considerable number of German breeders support the contention of Weismann that telegony is as yet unproved, and it may be pointed out that in Germany, on the whole, breeders have had a more scientific education than in England, and that in that country science is regarded with less aversion or contempt than is usually the case among so-called practical men in England. We may mention one more case of an ex- perienced breeder who was equally skeptical — the late Sir Everett Millais, who was, as is well known, an authority of great weight in the matter of dog-breeding. He writes as follows, in a lecture entitled Two Problems of Reproduction: "I may further adduce the fact that in a breeding experience of nearly thirty years' standing, during which I have made all sorts of experiments with pure-blood dams and wild sires, and returned them afterward to pure sires of their own breeds, T have never seen a case of telegony, nor has my breeding stock suffered. I may further adduce the fact that I have made over fifty experiments for Professor Romanes to induce a case of telegony in a variety of animals — dogs, ducks, hens, pigeons, etc. — but I have hopelessly failed, as has every single experimenter who has tried to produce the phenomenon."

It is thus evident that there is a considerable body of opinion, both practical and. theoretical, for and against telegony; and that a reinvestigation of the subject is urgently needed. Such a reinvestigation has been begun by Professor Ewart at Penycuik. Since the clearest and most definite evidence of this throwing back to a previous sire is derived from the crossing of different species of the Equidae, it was desirable to repeat the experiment of Lord Morton. This is now unfortunately impossible, because the quagga is extinct. The zebra is, however, still with us, and the mating of a zebra stallion with every variety of horse, pony, and ass, and subsequently putting the dam to pure-bred-sires, has been the more important part of the numerous experiments carried on in the Midlothian village some ten miles southwest of Edinburgh.

Before considering in detail the result of the experiments it will be necessary to say a few words on the question of the various species of zebra; and since, like Weismann, Professor Ewart explains certain of the phenomena attributed-to telegony by reversion, it will be as well to inquire how far reversion is known among the Equidae, and what evidence we have that the ancestor of the horse was striped.

Matopo, the zebra stallion from which Professor Ewart had up to last midsummer bred eleven zebra-hybrids from mares of various breeds and sizes, belongs to the widely distributed group of Burchell's zebras. Many subspecies or varieties are included in this group, which, as regards the pattern of the stripes, passes—in certain varieties found in Nyassaland — into the second species, the mountain zebra, once com- mon in South Africa. The third species is the Grevy's zebra of Shoa and Somaliland; it is probably this species which attracted so much at- tention in the Koman amphitheaters during the third century of our era. A pair of Somali zebras has recently been presented to the queen by the Emperor Menelik, and is now lodged in the Zoological Gardens, Kegent's Park. The species measures about fifteen hands high, is pro- fusely striped, and stands well apart from the other two groups. It is important to note that, in Professor Ewart's opinion, it is the most primitive of all the existing striped horses.

There is no direct evidence that the ancestors of horses were striped. Certain observers think that some of the scratches on the lifelike etchings on bone, left us by our palaeolithic cave-dwelling ancestors, indicate such stripes, but little reliance can be placed on this. On the other hand, there is much indirect evidence. Every one who has an eye for a horse, and who has traveled in Norway, is sure to have noticed the stripings, often quite conspicuous, on the dun-colored Norwegian ponies. Colonel Poole assured Darwin that the Kattiawar horses had frequently "stripes on the cheeks and sides of the nose." Breeders are well aware that foals are often born with stripes, usually on the shoulders or legs, less frequently on the face. Such stripes, as a rule, disappear as the colt grows up, but can often be detected in later life for a short time after the coat has been shed; they are sometimes only visible in certain lights, and then produce somewhat the same impression as a watered silk. From the facts that more or less striped horses are found all over the Old World; that in Mexico and other parts of America the descendants of horses which were introduced by the Spaniards and which afterward ran wild are frequently dun-colored and show stripes; that foals are frequently striped; and that mules not uncommonly have leg and shoulder stripes, the inference is largely justified that the ancestors of all our horses were striped.

We now pass to the experiments made at Penycuik in crossing the zebra Matopo with various mares of different breeds:

1. Matopo was first mated with Mulatto, one of Lord Arthur Cecil's black West Highland ponies. The result was the hybrid Romulus (see p. 132), which on the whole, both in mental disposition and bodily form, takes more after his father than his mother. His striping is even more marked than that of his sire. He has a semi-erect mane which has been shed annually. The pattern of the markings, on both body and face, resembles the stripes on a Somali zebra — which, as we have seen, is regarded by Professor Ewart as the most primitive type — more than they resemble that of any of Burchell's zebras. The profuse striping is a point of difference between this hybrid and Lord Morton's. The quagga-hybrid was less striped than many dun-colored horses.

The mother Mulatto was next mated with a highly bred gray Arab horse, Benazrek. The offspring agrees in all respects with ordinary foals; it had, however, a certain number of indistinct stripes, which could only be detected in certain lights. The stripes were not nearly so clear as in a foal bred by Mr. Darwin from a cross-bred bay mare and a thoroughbred, and they disappeared entirely in about five months.

Recently Mulatto has produced a third foal to Loch Corrie, a sire belonging to the Isle of Rum group of West Highland ponies, and closely resembling his mate. This foal was about as much striped as its immediate predecessor. In both cases the pattern of the stripe differed not only from that of Matopo, the previous sire, but from that of the hybrid Romulus. These two foals seem to lend some support to telegony; but the evidence which might be drawn from the second of them is destroyed by the fact that the sire Loch Corrie has produced foals from two West Highland mares, one brown and one black, and each of these foals has as many and as well marked stripes as the foal of Mulatto.

2. Four attempts were made to cross the zebra with Shetland ponies; only one succeeded. The hybrid was a smaller edition of Romulus. The dam Nora had been bred from before, and had produced, by a black Shetland pony, a foal of a dun color which was markedly striped. After the birth of the hybrid she was put to a bay Welsh pony; the resulting foal had only the faintest indication of stripes, which soon disappeared. It is a remarkable fact that Nora's foals were more striped before she had been mated with the zebra than afterward.

3. Five Icelandic ponies were mated with Matopo, of whom one produced, in 1897, a dark-colored hybrid. The dam, Tundra, was a yellow and white skewbald which had previously produced a light bay foal to a stallion of its own breed. Her third foal (1898) was fathered by a bay Shetland pony, and in coloration closely resembled its dam. There was no hint of infection in this case. This year Professor Ewart has bred from this mare, by Matopo, a zebra-hybrid of a creamy-fawn color, and so primitive in its markings that he believes it to stand in much the same relation to horses, zebras, and asses as the blue-rock does to the various breeds of pigeons (see illustration).

.Two Irish mares, both bays, produced hybrids by Matopo, and subsequently bore pure-bred foals. One of the latter was by a thoroughbred horse, the other by a hackney pony. The foals were without stripes, and showed no kind of indication that their mother had ever been mated with a zebra.

5. Although Professor Ewart experimented with seven English thoroughbred mares and an Arab, he only succeeded in one case. The mare produced twin hybrids, one of which unfortunately died immediately after birth. This summer the same mare has produced a foal to a thoroughbred chestnut; "neither in make, color, nor action" does it in any way resemble a zebra or a zebra-hybrid.

6. A bay mare which had been in foal to Matopo for some months miscarried. Here — if there is anything in the direct infection theory — the unused germ-cells of the zebra had a better chance than usual of reaching the ova from which future offspring are to arise, yet neither of the two foals which this mare subsequently produced to a thorough- bred horse "in any way suggests a zebra."

The above is the record of the successful experiments which have been tried at Penycuik, with a view of throwing light on the existence of telegony in the Equidae.

Throughout his account of his experiments Professor Ewart is extremely cautious in claiming to prove anything, but we think he has justified his claim to have shown that telegony by no means always occurs, as many breeders believe. His experiments so far support the view of Continental mule breeders, that telegony, if it takes place, occurs very seldom. But the experiments are not complete, and it is much to be hoped that they may be continued. If it should subsequently appear that out of fifty pure-bred foals from dams which have been previously mated with the zebra no single instance of telegony be found, the doctrine may surely be neglected by breeders; and if in the experiments which are now being carried out with various other mammals and birds telegony does not occur, the doctrine may be relegated to the 'dumping-ground' of old superstitions. The present state of the matter may be summed up in the professor's own words: "The experiments, as far as they have gone, afford no evidence in support of the telegony hypothesis." Nothing has occurred which is not explicable on the theory of reversion.

Wild animals are frequently thought to be prepotent over tame ones, but of the eleven zebra-hybrids bred at Penycuik only two took markedly after their sire, the zebra Matopo. There are other experiments recounted which tell the other way, and at present this matter remains in a state of considerable uncertainty. This article must not close without a word or two more about the zebra-hybrids. It is mentioned above that only two out of the eleven which have already been born took, strongly after their father.

Those who have seen the young hybrids playing about in the fields at Penycuik must agree that they are the most charming and compactly built little animals possible. Of Romulus, the eldest of the herd, Professor Ewart says: "When a few days old [he] was the most attractive little creature I have ever seen. He seemed to combine all the grace and beauty of an antelope and a well-bred Arab foal. . . . What has struck me from the first has been his alertness and the expedition with which he escapes from suspicious or unfamiliar objects. When quite young, if caught napping in the paddock, the facility with which he, as it were, rolled on to his feet and darted off was wonderful."

The writer can fully confirm all the praise Professor Ewart lavishes on his pets; in truth, Romulus has been well described as a "bonnie colt with rare quality of bone . . . and with the dainty step and the dignity of the zebra." Remus, the offspring of the Irish mare, has been from the first more friendly than his half-brother; he objected less to the process of weaning, and, if he survives, promises to be the handsomest and fleetest of the existing hybrids.

On the whole, the hybrids are unusually hardy; only two have been lost — one, a twin, which died almost as soon as it was born, and another which lived some three months and then succumbed. It is only fair to say that the dam of the latter, who was only three years old when the hybrid was born, had been much weakened by attacks of the strongylus worm, and that she was the victim of close inbreeding. Both the zebras and the hybrids which have been under observation at Penycuik show a remarkable capacity for recovering from wounds. Accidental injuries heal with great rapidity. On one occasion the surviving twin was discovered with a flap of skin some five inches long hanging down over the front of the left fetlock. The skin was stitched into its place again, during which operation the little hybrid fought desperately and cried piteously; but it soon recovered, the wound healed, and now scarcely a scar remains. There was no lameness and no swelling either at the fetlock or above the knee. About a year ago four hybrid colts and three ordinary foals were attacked by that scourge of the stable, the strongylus worm. One of the latter died and another was reduced almost to a skeleton; the hybrids, though obviously affected, suffered much less than the others and soon recovered. It is further noticeable that the hybrids suffer less from colds and other slight ail- ments than the mares and horses among which they live.

There is no doubt that it is a comparatively easy matter to breed these hybrids, and that they are not only extremely attractive animals to the eye, but hardy and vigorous, possessed of great staying powers, and promising to be capable of severe work. From what we have said, it is evident that the Penycuik experiments are of the highest interest, both practical and theoretical, and the public spirit and self-devotion shown by the Edinburgh professor in carrying them out can not be too widely recognized.

A letter written by Carl Hagenbeck on 26 October 1903 stated that Baron von Falz-Fein from Russia and the Baron de Parana both had eight to ten zebra hybrids, and agreed that if their usefulness and strength were more widely known, they would only breed zebroids rather than asses and horses. Hagenbeck asked for the price of Ewart's two zebra hybrids and his Shetland pony and offered his Korea stallion to him as a present, as he wished to be rid of it.


SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, November 7, 1903.

The recent purchase by the Indian government of two zebra-horse hybrids from Prof. J. Cossar Ewart, of Edinburgh University, Scotland, has called attention to the work of this gentleman, and, incidentally, to the experiments in cross-breeding of Mr. Carl Hagenbeck, the animal dealer at Hamburg, who has for some seven years past given serious consideration to this subject. During this comparatively short period Mr. Hagenbeck has produced an entirely new variety of sheep, deer, and pheasant by crossing the stronger, wilder species with tame, domestic specimens. It should be stated at once, perhaps, that the one aim in conducting these experiments has been to obtain a stronger and better animal — that is to say, better blood. That this has been accomplished in the case of the zebra-horse cross there is not the slightest doubt. The new animal, which has been named the zebrule, has been produced with the object of taking up the work of the ordinary military mule. It is a little larger than the average mule, and when once broken to harness is much more tractable and far more intelligent. Furthermore, the new animal does not possess that stubborn will and dangerous tricks often found in the common mule. It is also hardy, a good trotter, very sure of its footing, and capable of adapting itself to great changes of climate and temperature.

Prof. Ewart seriously commenced his experiments nine years ago. He obtained a fine, healthy zebra stallion, "Matopo," now the sire of many zebrules. The first hybrid was born in August, 1896, at Penicuik, in Midlothian, Scotland, the dam being a pony, selected from a first-class breed, the sire, of course, being "Matopo." The foal proved strong and hardy, very easily broken to saddle and harness, while its intelligence surprised those in charge of it. The animal was produced merely for scientific purposes, but it was such a success that Prof. Ewart came to the conclusion that the new hybrid would be an ideal animal for ordnance and commissariat work. The experiments were therefore continued, and a number of zebrules bred from thoroughbreds, half-Arabs and Clydesdales. Several of these were purchased by Carl Hagenbeck , of Hamburg. Indeed, he had already bought the two which have been dispatched to India, but willingly gave them up to the Indian government when they decided to take them, as he is convinced from his experience and handling of the zebrule that it will be the mule of the twentieth century. He is endeavoring to get the German government to take some of these animals for use in their army. He has several in his park at Stellingen, near Hamburg, and when in that city recently the writer went for a drive behind two of these interesting creatures. Full-grown they stand about 14 hands high, and have a girth measurement of about 63 inches. They are therefore somewhat larger than a mule. At first sight they strike one as strange, the zebra striping in some instances being very distinct, though, of course, by no means so conspicuous as in the wild zebra. They answer to the reins instantly, are not at all nervous of electric cars or traffic, and fast trotters.

Prof. Ewart, in speaking of the hybrid in his book, "A Guide to Zebra Hybrids," says: "Zebrules are usually better able to take care of themselves than pure-bred animals, are more alert, more active, and altogether more vigorous and intelligent. From the first, zebra hybrids are more friendly, more curious and confiding than ordinary foals. With time and care most of them can be trained to any kind of work. It is almost impossible and far from safe to break in a young mule by itself, but quite possible to break in by itself a zebra hybrid." It was hoped that the British War Office would take the new animal, but it stolidly refused to touch them. It is as well, perhaps, that the animals are to be tried first in India, where it is well known the natives manage their mules with more tact and patience than the British soldier. The animals have already arrived at their destination, Quetta, and are now undergoing a series of tests as to their suitability for mountain battery work. Although no official report has been received, it has been stated that the animals fulfill all the requirements set down by the Indian government. Indeed, so well have they behaved that a number of drives have been organized in the East Africa Protectorate for the capture of young zebra stallions for exportation to India, Jamaica, and elsewhere for breeding purposes.

A hybrid that has attracted the attention of zoologists is the lion and tiger cross, a number of which may now be seen at the Hagenbeck establishment in Hamburg. The oldest is four years of age, and is a fine animal, called "Prince." He was recently seen performing with several other animals in one of the Hagenbeck trained groups in New York. When only three years of age he weighed five hundredweight and measured 10 feet from the tip of his tail to the tip of his nose, and stood four feet high to the top of the shoulder. The peculiarity of this beast is that he has a tiger's body and a lion's head, the stripes, of course, not being so distinct as in the common tiger. Prince's father was a Senegal lion and his mother a Bengal tiger. This one animal is valued by its owner at £10,000.

"The first successful experiment I made in the crossing of animals," said Mr. Hagenbeck, in speaking of this side of his interesting work, "was about seven years ago, when I crossed a leopard and a puma. The only living animal of the litter, which, fortunately, was a very healthy one, I sold some time ago to the Berlin Zoological Garden, where it is still in the collection. I am now busy endeavoring to obtain a new variety of sheep by crossing the giant sheep of Central Asia with our common domestic animal."

Sportsmen will be particularly interested in the new pheasant which the Hamburg establishment has produced. It has been obtained by crossing pheasants from Central Asia with the European variety. The result is a larger bird, much stronger on the wing, and more prettily marked. The new pheasant very much resembles the English or common American pheasant in appearance. It is somewhat larger, however, and sportsmen have already discovered that it is very quick on the wing, and not so easy to bring to the ground. Mr. Hagenbeck has succeeded in securing several broods of these pheasants. The first of these were obtained in April of last year. They were quickly snapped up by the Duke of Bedford and Lord Rothschild, who own extensive shooting grounds in England, these two gentlemen taking the larger portion of them. Several broods were obtained again at the beginning of this year, and the birds are all doing well. For years the European pheasant has been gradually declining, but with the introduction of the Asiatic variety if has received a new lease of life. In the same way several new varieties of deer have been secured by crossing Persian fallow deer with ordinary European deer.


A widely circulated report, published in May 1903, writes: THAT ENTIRELY NEW SPECIES OF ANIMALS may be created is demonstrated by the latest achievements of the world’s greatest animal hunter, Carl Hagen-beck. On his animal ranch near Hamburg, Germany, Hagenbeck has for some time past been devoting himself to the creating of new species of animals and birds. He has obtained new varieties of deer and mules and wonderful crosses between the zebra and the horse. [. . .] Probably the furthest developed of the new species, of animals he is creating is the cross between the zebra and the horse. A number of these are at his depot in Hamburg, and it is not an uncommon sight to see him taking a drive behind two of these strange “horses.” The characteristic of these animals is that they possess the zebra’s body and the horse’s head, and are as large as mules. The aim has- been to obtain a stronger and better blood than that possessed by the existing equine breeds. At present Hagenbeck has six zebra-horses broken to harness. He has found them possessed of greater endurance and strength than horses of their weight, and seemingly possessed of greater intelligence.

ZEBRULES. (The British Medical Journal, June 27 1903). THE OPENING UP OF CENTRAL AND EASTERN AFRICA has revealed the fact that instead of zebras being nearly extinct, these animals exist in large numbers on the banks of the Tama river and in the province of Ukamba. Unlike horses and cattle, they are proof against horse sickness and the fatal tsetse fly. At the present time, for land transport in war, mules are almost universally employed, and they are used for the carriage of mountain battexies. Professor Cossar Ewart has at Penycuik since I895 been endeavouring by zebra-horse hybrids to "evolve" an animal that shall be be superior to the mule for the purposes for which that animal is usually employed. There are three kinds or types of zebras - namely, Grevy's zebra of Shoa and Somaliland, the mountain zebra (equus zebra), once common in South Africa, and known as the common zebra, and, the widely distributed Burchell group of zebras.

The zebra-horse hybrids were obtained by crossing mares of various sizes with a zebra stallion, a Burchell's zebra; and the new animals get the name of "zebrules." They seem excellently adapted by their build and general make, as well as by the hardness of hoof, for transport purposes and artillery batteries. The zebra striping is often distinct, though in colour they more generally resemble their dam. They stand I4 hands high, with a girth measurement of 63 in. Their temper seems to be better than that of the ordinary mule, and they are exceedingly active;, alert, and intelligent. The Indian Government are giving them a trial in Quetta for mountain battery work, and they are being put, also, to a practical test in Germany. It appears from the experiments of Mr. Hagenbeck of Hamburg that zebrules go in harness quite well, and that Jamrack of Toun-on-the-Alster is introducing them into Germany and America. It is predicted that the zebrules will be the "mule" of the twentieth century.

NEW DRAFT ANIMAL DOOMS ARMY MULE. CROSS BETWEEN HORSE AND ZEBRA IS SUPERIOR. DOES NOT CONTRACT DISEASE. More Lively Than the Animal That Provokes Cussing and Cannot Be Less Intelligent. (Various, August 1903)

The days of the mule are numbered. Within the next few centuries his melodious voice will have been stilled forever. This is the prophecy of United States Consul General Richard Guenther, at Frankfort, Germany, who sends a report to the state department on the chances of the zebrula, a cross between the horse and zebra, superceding the mule. He says of the qualifications of the zebrula:

“German papers contend that it has been demonstrated that the mule, the cross between the horse and donkey, is inferior to the cross between horse and zebra. Formerly the opinion prevailed that the zebra was almost extinct. The opening up of Africa, particularly the eastern part, reveals these fine animals in large numbers. Compared with horses and cattle, they possess peculiar advantages, as they are immune against the very dangerous horse disease of Africa, and also against the deadly “tztze.” The question was therefore raised whether the zebra could not take the place of the mule, commonly used in the tropics. The greatest credit with reference to the solution of this problem is due to Professor Cossar Ewart, who has been trying since 1895 to produce crosses between horses and zebras, with a view to developing an animal superior in every respect to the mule.

“Professor Ewart produced crosses from mares of different breeds and zebra stallions of the burchell kind. The offspring is called zebrula, and on account of its form and general bodily condition, especially the hardness of the hoofs, is specially adapted for all transport work heretofore performed by mules. The zebrula is much livelier than the mule and at least as intelligent. The zebra stripes are often well preserved, while the undertone of the skin is generally that of the mother. A full grown zebrula is fourteen hands high and the girdle circumference about 160 centimeters (sixty-three inches). The experiments so far have been so successful that it is predicted that the zebrula during the present century will completely supercede the mule.”

Other newspapers of the time wrote "The days of the mule are numbered, comes the word from Germany, where a new animal, the Zebrula, has been evolved to take the place of the gentle-eyed, melodious-voiced and hard- hoofed little animal. The new animat1 is the result of a cross between the horse and a zebra. The nomenclature of horseology would indicate that a better name for the new quadruped would-be the zehorska."

A NEW ANIMAL.—ROMULUS THE ZEBRULE. Southland Times , Issue 19173, 10 October 1903, Page 4: Professor Cossar Ewart has been experimenting for some time with zebras to see if he could obtain an animal superior to the ordinary mule. During the last eight or nine years he has bred from his Burchell zebra, Matopo, and different classes of mares — chiefly Shetland, Iceland and Clydesdale— a number of hybrids, which have now reached a marketable value. Within the last twelve month; Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, has bought eight of the zebrules, , as the new animals are called, and in February last the Indian Government bought two, which have been sent to Quetta to be tried for mountain battery work. The illustrations show Matopo's eldest son, Romulus, when no was twenty-eight days old, and his head when full grown. His dam was Mulatto, one of Lord Arthur Cecil's Island of limn ponies. From the first Romulus was strong and hardy, and was easily broken to harness. He moves more like a zebra than a horse, and when young was somewhat restless when separated from his companions. Born on the 12th of August, 1890, he was presented to King Edward and carried off to Sandringham from the Royal Agricultural Society's Show at York in 1900. As a foal his color varied from orange to reddish brown, but since he shed his first coat he has become more of a dun. This is the first cross between a male zebra and an ordinary mare that has ever been bred ; but a few months later Baron de Parana, of Brazil, who has also been experimenting with zebras, obtained his first zebra -horse hybrid, and it is his belief that the zebrule will be the mule of the twentieth century, l-'or strength, intelligence and alertness the hybrid is greatly indebted to its zebra sire, and it is more easily broken in than the ordinary mule.

“ZEBRULA” MAY EVENTUALLY REPLACE THE MULE (The Courier Journal, July 31, 1904). THE death knell of the Soldier’s friend—the old army mule—has been sounded in no uncertain tones by the recent appearance of the “zebrula,” a cross between a horse and zebra, which Is extraordinarily Intelligent, and whose enduring qualities and capabilities in the performance of hard work recommends it strongly for usurping the place which has long been held by the mule. This new horse, the “zebrula,” on account of its form and its general physical condition, especially the hardness of the hoofs, i especially adapted to all transport work which is now performed by mules. Moreover, the “zebrula” is much livelier than the mule, and is certainly as intelligent.

In Germany, according to Richard Guenther, United States Consul General at Frankfort, it is confidently predicted that ere long the mule will be replaced by the “zebrula," Efforts to produce crosses between horses and zebras, which have been in progress for nearly eight years, have finally become successful, and assurances are given that, the “zebrula" will be the coming animal for transportation. A prominent animal dealer of Hamburg, Germany, who raises all kinds of animals, has just arrived at the World’s Exposition in St. Louis with a fine collection of the “zebrulas" and various varieties of the zebra.

The opportunity is presented to enterprising men of this country to open up a new industry of breeding “zebrulas” to replace the mule, as the former are claimed to be more useful, quicker and beautiful than any mule. Wildness is said to be one of the characteristics of hybrids and half-breeds. To say zebra hybrids are wild would hardly accurately describe them. From the first, zebra hybrids are more friendly, more curious and more confiding than ordinary foals; they notice everything that happens In their neighborhood. Should a strange dog appear it is rapidly chased from the field. If at all suspicious they lose little time in scampering off to a safe distance. They might very well be described as tamer than tame animals until an attempt is made to curtail their freedom, when all at once they are as wild as the wildest. With time and care most of them can be trained to do any kind of work. There is every reason for supposing "zebrulas” would be as easily managed as ordinary mules, and for believing that in India and Africa they would be In every way more useful.

As a nation, Americans are said to be wanting in looking ahead, trusting to dash and courage, making up for want of systematic methods and forethought. It remains to be seen whether an effort will be made to utilize the zebra hybrids. Primeval man domesticated the horse. The “zebrula" can in like manner be tamed sufficiently to make the production of mules as simple as it might In time become profitable.

The "zebrulas" are in make greatly superior to the common mule. The legs are excellent, and their hoofs are all that could be desired; the hind quarters are well formed, while the shoulders depend to a large extent on their breeding. As to stamina, even in this country, "zebrulas" have the advantage; in warmer countries they defy most of the diseases horses and mules so readily succumb to, and suffer hardly at all from the excessive changes of temperature and other unfavourable conditions.

“A report from the November 25th, 1904 edition of the Olsburg Gazette mentions the zebrulas at the World’s Fair: “THE ZEBRULA. A NEW BREED OF HORSEFLESH has come into public notice, namely, the Zebrula. Some of these animals are being shown at the World’s Fair. They originated in Africa from a cross of the Zebra stallion and the horse mare. They are said to be highly regarded in South Africa, where they are valuable on account of not being affected by the bite of the tsetse fly, which is sure death to the horse or donkey. Breeders in South Russia, in England and Germany have taken up the breeding of these animals. They are said to be hardier than the mule or horse. The Zebra is known to be a very wild and swift animal and for a long time it was found impossible to make him useful to man on account of his wildness. The crossing has taken some of the wildness out of his progeny. The name given to the progeny is Zebrula. It is likely that we will soon have a good many varieties of the Zebrula, as there are two species of zebras, those inhabiting the mountains and those inhabiting the plains, and the crossing of these in various ways should give a great variety of markings and other conformations.”

On January 27th, 1905, The Times Dispatched asked “WILL ZEBRULAS COME HERE? [American] Government May Experiment With New Zebra Horse Cross. It is understood that the government has under consideration the importance of zebras for the purpose of experimental breeding with the horse. The Agricultural Department has been asked to take up this work, but as Uncle James Wilson Is pretty well acquainted with the American mule and his good qualities, it is not sure that he will spend much time or money on the new breed. The hybrid between the horse and the zebra is a striped animal with great speed and endurance. Germany has been experimenting with this cross. for several years and has tested its value in war with results that were very encouraging. It is said of the zebrula that it is as gentle as a horse, in this respect differing very much from the zebra. It is stronger than a mule and entirely immune from certain diseases which are pretty certain to attack horses and frequently with fata) results when imported into certain parts of Africa. As soon as the German Government were satisfied with the success of this line of crossing, it at once established a breeding station in its African possessions. At this station much attention in being given to the breeding of zebrulas, and these are now regularly used in handling heavy ordnance, as, for instance, mountain batteries of the colonial service. They are also being used as mounts for officers and men, and for draught ' purposes in various ways.

Later on, The Cincinnati Enquirer of May 1st, 1905 wrote: “THREE ZEBRULAS ADDED TO THE CURIOSITIES OF THE CINCINNATI ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN. Three zebrulas have been received at the zoo from the Hagenbeck Company at Hamburg, Germany. The animals have been in this country for some time, and were a part of the big collection of wild animals which was exhibited at the St. Louis World’s Fair by Hagenbeck. The zebrula is a hybrid animai, which is secured by crossing the zebra with either a donkey or a horse. One of the zebrulas received here is a cross with a horse, and the other two are crossed with donkeys. The zebrulas are bred by the German army for experimental purposes for use in Africa. The zebra has a hide which can resist the insects and flies, and by crossing them with horses the Germans hoped to produce an animal which had the endurance of the horse and those qualities of a zebra which would allow it to be used for domestic purposes in Africa. The hybrid was called the zebrula as it is purely an artificial animal."

Ultimately, the zebrula was to become a circus curiosity as this cutting from The Kingsport Times of August 20, 1925 indicates: "ZEBRAS AND ZEBRULAS DO TRICKS AT WILL OF CHRISTY'S TRAINERS. For the first time in the history of wild animal training zebras and zebrulas have been taught to perform tricks and obey the will of their trainer. Some fine specimens of these animals are with Christy Bros, trained wild animal show, which will exhibit in Kingsport on Monday, September 14. The striped equine has always been the stumbling block in the paths of educators and trainers of beasts and animals. Many of them after herculean and patient endeavor have given up in disgust and consigned the convict coated animal to a remote and disagreeable locality, acknowledging that he was beyond all human understanding. Christy Bros, trainers for many years concurred in this belief, but heroic perseverance was finally and justly rewarded. These circus kings now have with their great show zebras that give performances which include everything done by the best trick horses. Interesting in this connection is the appearance and presentation at the same time of several zebrulas, or equine hybrids, the only ones of their kind, produced by scientific crossing of full blooded zebras and Kentucky thoroughbred horses."

Here we have an account of the hybrid from The Elyria Reporter on August 22nd, 1905: “ To experiment With Zebrula. Zebrula, .a newly coined word. Is applied lo a peculiar appearing animal. The zebrula is a cross between a full-blooded, vicious zebra and an American horse. The zebra, as students of natural history are informed, is the hardest of all four-footed, hay-eating animals to handle. It is more treacherous than either the lion or tiger, and is ten times more lively, when it comes to kicking, than the well-known Missouri mule. The zebrula does not Inherit these bad qualities from his sire’s side. He looks like a zebra about the head and has dull brown stripes that show indistinctly int [sic] he still duller brown of the hair, which is very soft and silky. A full-blood zebra possesses bright, black and white stripes in conformation the zebrula follows the type of the American horse, and from the infusion of the latter’s blood. Its temper is normal, as it were, and it displays the many good traits of the horse. English army officers have become greatly interested in the zebrula and have induced the government to request Mr. Hagenbeck to breed at least a dozen of them and send them to South Africa, for experimental purposes. The officers believe the zebrula will stand the South African climate better and do considerably more work than either the full-blooded mule or horse.

AT LAST A USE HAS BEEN FOUND FOR THE ZEBRA. Not Much Value Himself, but He Makes a Capital Father When The Mother Is a Kentucky Mare. The Zebrula, Their Offspring, Sold by Thousands to the German Government. (The new York Times, Sunday, March 18, 1906)

In the day» when we were young and were joyful participants in a visit to the circus, or the less exciting but equally entertaining Zoo, there was always one animal that particularly impressed the childish mind. Probably the similarity that the zebra bore to our old friend the horse caused paramount interest in "the little black-and-white-striped ponies.” The zebra, too, had always the youthful charm, being the only animal whose title begins with the letter Z, and the illustrated animal alphabet books have accordingly made almost universal use of the zebra picture. As days went on, no doubt many others have wondered how it is that an animal bearing so close a resemblance to that ever useful friend, the horse, should never have been similarly useful to mankind, except for exhibition purposes.

Some few' years ago that well known wild animal monopolist, Carl Hagenbeck, became considerably interested in the terrific loss of horseflesh suffered by the British Army daring the late Boer war owing to the bite of the tsetse fly, whose sting in nine cases out of ten, proves fatal. It was estimated that this little pest cost the British Government, that of necessity had to import 99 per cent of its horses and mules, many hundreds of thousands of dollars during the South African campaign. It was a fact that the zebra, an animal closely allied to the horse and the mule, was as yet immune to the bite of the fly, and it was wondered If by the cross-breeding of the two closely allied animals, a hybrid could not be procured that would also be immune to the much-feared fly, and at the same time prove to be an animal of intelligence and of use to humanity.

The first difficulty that presented itself in a series of experiments was the fact that the zebra is an animal whose very nature has always rebelled against domestication or even restriction. The zebra is the most obstreperous animal in the world. Hundreds have been the subject of vain endeavor to tame and subdue them. It is not that the zebra is of savage nature, or particularly vicious, but rather that the blood of generations of freedom seems to be so thick that the animal eventually balks at the attempts to train or develop it mentally. Weeks of hard labor, when it would seem as if the efforts of the trainer would be rewarded with some success, have suddenly been dissipated by an unconquerable desire on the part of the animal to resist the trainer and refuse to attempt the trick or obey the order. Five years were spent in training a span of four zebras for Leopold Rothschild, whose ambition was to drive a four-in-hand of these Interesting creatures through the streets of London. In due course the zebras were shipped to London. For some weeks the beasts behaved fairly well, until one day when they were being driven by Mr. Rothschild from his place at Gunnersbury to South Ealing, they became frightened at a passing automobile, bolted, and generally proved so untractable that for weeks it was impossible to do anything with them.

The first attempt at cross-breeding was made In Hamburg, and the foal proved a most Interesting creature. The Intelligence of the young zebrula - for that was the title given the new hybrid -was remarkable. It seemed to have lost the rattle-brained scaredness of the father and to have become imbued with the domesticity of the mare. In appearance it had the size of the zebra with the rich bay coat of the mare, ribbed by dark underlining stripes making, indeed, a handsome and beautiful beast. As a curio such an animal was of great interest, but, in the mind of the breeders, it was purely a question of utility. Young zebrulas were soon shipped to the Cape and sent north. It did not take long to discover that the youngsters were also immune from the bite of the fly.

It is perhaps well to state that the zebra is found in large numbers in German East Africa. The German Emperor soon became considerably Interested In this new animal, which in the future is unquestionably to prove of so great an assistance in the country where “ salted” (animals immune from the tsetse fly are called “ salted “) draught animals are almost worth their weight in gold. With the Emperor’s approval about twice a year a zebra hunt is held in German East Africa. That one of these hunts is a great novelty and creates considerable excitement may be gathered from the fact that it is necessary to employ the services of thousands of natives and that though much big game and antelope and springbok may be shot, there is severe penalty against shooting a zebra. Results of the hunt will often show that many hundreds of wild animals have been encircled and entrapped of which the zebras only have been allowed to live to prove a future blessing to mankind.

The first step in the zebra hunt is to obtain the assistance of the natives, some of whom live in the territory that will be hunted, while others may be imported for the purpose. The natives include Kaffirs, Swazis, Matabele, Mashonas, Zulus, and other dependents of the native chiefs. The territory to be hunted is selected and a centre founded. From this centre a circle is described with a radius of from 100 to 150 miles, making a complete circle of some 500 miles. A given date is set, the various chiefs notified, and the various hunting parties, generally about twenty-five in all, and each under a separate guide and head hunter, set out to cover the territory assigned to them. Soon the various parties meet on the right and left, forming a chain of natives who gradually converge toward the given centre.

The zebras, being extremely nervous and of wild disposition, are always found in herds. At the first sight of the enemy, man the herd stampedes, only to be met by another approaching party and turned again toward the centre. Often as many as five or six herds will be rounded up in this manner, and as the hunters gradually converge, the zebras become surrounded by a wall of enemies which it is practically impossible to break through. Sometimes, however, the animals do break the line, and many days are lost until they are again surrounded. Eventually there comes the day when an immense kraal is sighted, and into it the animals are driven. The kraal used for this purpose is nothing more than an immense inclosure with barbed-wire fence and thatch-roofed sheds to give the animals shelter from the rays of the noon sun. Then the hunt may be said to be at an end. A general feast is held in which all the hunters take part, and at which the chiefs are rewarded for their labors and all return to their own kraals until the next hunt. As soon as the hunt is ended there begins the long, arduous duty of transporting the zebras to the breeding farms at Loangula, where at the present time there are hundreds of Kentucky mares for breeding purposes. For this transportation American cowboys are employed. They treat the zebra as a broncho, and in bunches of twenty or thirty partly drive and partly haul them to the breeding farm.

At the present time thousands of young zebrulas are under contract to be supplied to the German Government to be used in the place of imported mules and artillery horses. The British Government is also extremely anxious to become the owner of unlimited quantities of this new hybrid, and the work of regeneration Is proceeding apace until in a few years there is but little question that the zebrula will be fast taking the place of the horse and mule in South Africa. That the zebrula is in every way superior has been proved beyond a doubt. The zebrula is quick, strong, tractable, and willing, and for the rough country and hot climate is bound to become indispensable. An interesting fact in connection with the zebrula Is that some of these clever animals are to be seen this year in this country in connection with Hagenbeck shows. The zebrula will be seen in chariot races against the horse, whom in many instances he Is able to distance, as he still retains the great speed and agility of the father zebra.

From The evening News, September 7th, 1922: “SCIENCE IS JUST NOW INTERESTED IN HYBRIDS OF THE ZEBRA STOCK. There is a flecky-built faintly-striped zebrula at the Zoo, a cross between a zebra and a Shetland pony. In Southern Indiana the zebra has been successfully mated with Arabia mares, producing the zebroid, a tough but docile beast of burden. One advantage expected of this cross Is the longevity that the sire may be able to confer on his progeny. In his native Africa he sometimes reaches 75 years, and if his hybrid American offspring can carry their vigor into fifty years, this would be more than double the horse’s expectancy of life. “ (The claim of such longevity in zebras was incorrect)

The Daily Courier of December 7th, 1936, mentioned the zebrula in brief: “MULE, JENNET AND ZEBRULA. Of animals which owe their existence to man the mule and the jennet are the oldest examples, and no one can deny that the mule is a most useful creature Hardy as a donkey, strong as a horse, surefooted and tireless, there is nothing like it for rough country traveling Its success caused the production of the zebrula which is a cross between the horse and zebra. The zebrula is as strong as a mule, but livelier and even less liable to disease.


Professor of Agriculture and Rural Economy in the University of Edinburgh


1907 (First published 1886 )

The belief was entertained by Darwin, and accepted universally for years after his death, that "the influence of the first male by which a female produces young may frequently be seen in her future offspring by different sires." The evidence accepted in support of the assumption has not proved sufficiently reliable, and Professor Cossar Ewart's extensive telegony experiments at Penicuik with zebra hybrids (zebrules), dogs, and numerous small animals, including pigeons, although supplying only negative evidence, all point in a diametrically opposite direction. He has completely undermined the relevance of the often quoted case of Lord Morton's pure-bred chestnut Arab mare, - which first bred to a quagga, and subsequently by a black Arab stallion, gave birth to two dun colts with striped legs, — by pointing out that similar bandings occur naturally, without crossing, in certain breeds of horses, notably a Norwegian breed ; and by breeding many zebra hybrids — the progeny of a great variety of virgin horse and pony mares, followed by foals from the same mares by an Arab stallion — not one of which showed any marking or other characteristic which could be traced to the zebra.

Zebrules or Zebroids have in recent years excited much public interest, on account of the success of the extensive experiments conducted between 1896 and 1904 by Professor Cossar Ewart at Penicuik, Midlothian, about 15 miles from Edinburgh. There "Matopa," 12.2 hands, a Burchell zebra stallion, variety Chapmans, from the Transvaal border, by a great variety of ponies and a few larger mares, bred some sixteen zebra mules (Plates CXXXVI. and CXXXVII.). They proved to be very hardy, resisting the winter cold at an elevation of 800 feet above the sea. They had double the number of stripes common to the zebra, and were without exception bright, intelligent, and handsome in appearance, had excellent feet and clean limbs, with wonderful bones when the strength of the mothers was considered. They were good-natured and tractable for mules, and were broken to the saddle and to harness. The two tallest specimens, over 14 hands, went to work in; a mountain battery in Northern India. The early official reports of these animals were not entirely satisfactory in relation to the unsuitability of their feet to a hilly country ; their need for a larger amount of food than the ordinary mule ; and their suffering from fever and catarrh and falling off in condition with hard work. But the trials have not been extensive enough nor carried on long enough to settle the question of the suitability or otherwise of the zebrule for military purposes.

Carl Hagenbeck, of Hamburg, secured eight of the number when the Penicuik experiments came to an end. Six of them were sent to the St Louis Exposition in 1904, and sold, to develop an interest in America in the new cross. The two retained by Hagenbeck, and valued at £1200, are regularly driven in his private carriage, and are said to be hard workers, doing quite 50 per cent more work than any horse. It is generally admitted that zebroids are stronger for their size than common mules, and there can be no difficulty in breeding them up to 16 and 17 hands, by Grevy's Somaliland zebra on mares of any of the heavy cart breeds. The first zebra cross on record appears to have been bred by Lord Clive about the beginning of the last quarter of the eighteenth century, by mating a common jack and a female mountain zebra. Mountain zebra crosses are reported to be more difficult to handle than other zebrules, and those by under-bred mares worse than those showing some quality. Similar crosses were bred in Italy and in Paris early in the nineteenth century. Zebra-ass hybrids were bred at Knowsley and at Windsor Park in the reign of George IV. Zebra crossing in different ways was carried out later in Paris and Melbourne, and several similar crosses were bred by Lady Meux, at Theobald Park, Hertfordshire. Lord Morton's famous Quagga-Arab cross was produced in 1815, and Lord Mostyn bred another of the same. The first genuine mule-zebra by a Burchell sire, and probably the most perfect specimen that has yet been produced, was Ewart's "Romulus" by "Matopa" out of "Mulatto," a West Highland pony, in 1896. Baron de Parana, of Brazil, has since bred a number of useful animals in a similar way. The zebrule is not proof against the poison of the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans, but this is not to be wondered at, as the zebra bred away from the fly country is not itself immune.

For full particulars, consult The Penicuik Experiments, by J. C. Ewart, published by Adam & Charles Black, London, 1899; papers in the Journal of the Highland Society for 1902 ; and, " The Utility of Zebra Hybrids," by Thos. H. Dale, in The Transvaal Agric. Journal, 1904.


Zebroids were bred in Brazil in the Marques do Paraná’s (Honório Carneiro Leão) Fazenda Lordello. The Marques's son Henrique Hermeto Carneiro Leão, became Baron of Paraná in 1888. Henrique, much like British zebra enthusiast Walter Rothschild, had an extravagant habit of driving around in a horse buggy pulled by a pair of zebras. The zebras were Canon and Carabine, which had been acquired in 1892 from the Paris Jardin d'Acclimatiation. Canon and Carabine were to begin his hybridisation experiments. Carabine died, but Canon sired at least 9 zebroids on different mares.

The Baron of Paraná stated “these zebroids are very sprightly but at the same time are gentle, becoming very docile in the hands of those who care for them. They feed as well from the manger as in the pasture, and are possessed of extraordinary muscular strength. Therefore they may be bred at will for the saddle or for heavy or light draft. It is only necessary to select the mare possessing the qualities desired.” He hoped that zebra mules would substitutes for horse/ass mules. Zebras were hardy animals and naturally immune to tsetse, so it was hoped that their hybrid offspring would inherit those traits. Around that time, British explorers in Africa were searching for the source of the Nile and suffered heavy losses of horses and donkeys used as pack animals.

The Baron’s experiments were widely reported and he won a medal from the Société Nationale d'Acclimatation in France, which published details in its annals. (Parana (Baron de). Le croisement du zèbre avec la jument obtenu au Brésil. Bull. Soc. d'Acclim., 1897, p. 124 et 433 (p. 102).)

The Baron's undertakings were successful enough that he was able to export some of his zebroids to Paris as carriage animals.

According to The Sydney Mail (August 9, 1902) Baron de Parana a stock-breeder in Brazil, thus writes to a friend:- “I have nine zebroids. They are all bay in colour from the lightest to the darkest, with lighter points, all having the stripes of the zebra very marked and very symmetrical on the head and neck, on the body and on the legs; on the haunches close to the tail the stripes are replaced by spots more or less dark and dappled. Four of my zebroids are already broken to drive in harness and to the saddle, and they are as good for driving as under the saddle. They are very docile, very strong, quick and active. As trotters they are of the first order. I have one pair of zebroids, three years old, which harnessed to my Victoria [note: type of buggy], containing three persons, make every day at a regular trot, 7 and a half miles in 30 minutes on the country roads where there are steep rises. I affirm that the zebroid will be the mule of the 20th century. In order to breed on a large scale it is necessary to take the male zebra as soon as he is born and have him nursed by a mare and then leave him always among mares till he comes to the age of maturity, which is to say, until the age of seven years. The zebra is not “adult” until that age. The subsequent proceedings are the same as when one desires to obtain ass mules.”

ZEBROID LORDELLO-ONE YEAR OLD. Out of the mare STAEL bv the zebra CANON. This illustration issued by courtesy of the U. S. Department of Agriculture and taken from the Annual Report of the Bureau of Animal Industry, 1898. The picture was sent to the U. S. Department of Agriculture by Baron de Parana, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The zebroid is the result of a cross of the zebra with the common mare.

BREEDING ZEBROIDS - U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Annual Report of the Bureau of Animal Industry for the Year 1899

The Brazilian minister has kindly forwarded to the Bureau of Animal Industry some interesting data regarding the crossing of the zebra with the common mare. Two photographs of the hybrids produced by the crossing accompanied the data and are reproduced for this report. This experiment was conducted by Baron de Parana, of the Plantation Lordella, municipality of Sapucaia, State of Rio Janeiro, Brazil.

Hybrids of this sort have not been unknown, but they are exceedingly rare. Hybrids of the ass as the male parent and the horse as the female parent, which produce the common mule, are well known everywhere. Less common, but still well known, is the hybrid known as the "hinny" (sometimes called the "jennet"), which is the offspring of the horse as the male parent and the ass as the female parent. The breed of zebra generally considered the best for crossing with any of the domestic species of Equus is Burchell’s zebra {Equus Burchelli) which is the best known zebra at this time. Messrs. Tegetmeir and Sutherland give the following description and comparison with the mountain zebra : "The species is still common in some parts of South Africa, and is now being utilized in the coach teams in the Transvaal. The Burchell differs from the mountain zebra (E. zebra) in several essential parts. It is a larger and stronger animal, with shorter ears, which are rarely more than 6 inches in length, and have a much larger proportion of white, a longer mane, and a fuller and more horse-like tail. The general color is pale yellowish brown, the stripes being dark brown or nearly black.”

Mr. Harold Stephens, who wrote of this zebra in 1892, speaks of their use in the harness in the Transvaal in a most encouraging way, and says they will largely be substituted for mules. “They are said to be entirely free from that South African scourge called horse sickness." He says: "The zebras, when inspanned (harnessed to the coach), stand quite still and wait for the word to go. They pull up when required and are perfectly amenable to the bridle, and are softer mouthed than the mule. They never kick, and the only thing in the shape of vice which they manifest is that when first handled they have an inclination to bite, but as soon as they get to understand that there is no intention to hurt them they give this up."

Mr. Stephens says that attempts are to be made to cross this zebra with the horse, with the object of getting a larger and handsomer mule than the ordinary cross with the ass, and probably superior in every way. He says further: “ It will be interesting to watch the progress of these experiments, which may bring about a new and important industry, for if the cross between the zebra and the horse can be brought about without difficulty it will not be long before these animals will be preferred to ordinary mules."

When we consider these possibilities, one is reminded of the remarks of Thomas Bewick in 1824. While the records show that there were still earlier in the century zebras that had been broken to the harness, it was generally believed that they were among the most untamable of wild animals. Mr. Bewick said : " Such is the beauty of this creature that it seems by nature fitted to gratify the pride and formed for the service of man, and it is most probable that time and assiduity alone are wanting to bring it under subjection. As it resembles the horse in regard to its form as well as manner of living, there can be but little doubt but it possesses a similitude of nature and only requires the efforts of an industrious and skillful nation to be added to the number of our useful dependents."

The Burchell zebra is much better adapted by its structure and form to the uses of man than any of the wild asses, and there can be little doubt that its hybrids, especially where crossed with the horse, would be exceedingly valuable to man if the mating is done carefully.

In the case of the hybrids produced in the plantation of Baron de Parana, to which he has given the generic name of zebroids, he was able to make some interesting and important observations. He produced five zebroids, as follows:

Lordello. Male; foaled December 5, 1896; out of the mare Staol, by the zebra Canon; is a brown bay striped with black.

Menelick. Male; foaled January 15, 1898; out of the mare Ella, by Canon; gray, striped with black.

Saha, Female; foaled June 22, 1898; out of the mare Denise, by Canon; light bay, striped with black.

Salomon, Male; foaled July 2, 1898; out of the mare Ingleza, by Canon ; a bright bay, striped with black.

Erythrea, Female; foaled December 30, 1898; out of the mare Ella, by Canon. ; bay, the zebra stripes being dark brown.

The Baron states that these zebroids are very sprightly but at the same time are gentle, becoming very docile in the hands of those who care for them. They feed as well from the manger as in the pasture, and are possessed of extraordinary muscular strength. Their size, slenderness of form, pace, and disposition depend upon he dam. Therefore they may be bred at will for the saddle or for heavy or light draft. It is only necessary to select the mare possessing the qualities desired. Thus the crossing with mares of the heavy Percherons, Suffolks, or Clydesdales gives zebroids that are large and very strong, but not so heavy and thickset as their dams. Crossing with mares of lighter races, such as the Arabs, Normans, etc., produces zebroids that are tall and slender, fully as strong as the former, but more tractable and suitable for work which requires quickness rather than strength alone.

A peculiarity of the breeding of zebroids, as pointed out by Baron de Parana, is that copulation will not take place unless both the mare and the zebra are " in heat " at the same time; “that the domestication of the zebra is of very recent date, and consequently it preserves the characteristics of the wild animals, which never copulate except when male and female are in heat at the same time." The zebra, he says, is in heat in autumn and spring, especially in very warm countries, seldom covering in very warm weather and never in very cold weather.

It will be observed that the five zebroids named above are out of four different mares, but that the zebra Canon was the sire of all of them. This fact, taken in connection with the statement that Professor Ewart, at Penicuick, near Edinburgh, bred about twenty mares to a zebra with only one foal as a result, indicates that Canon was an unusually good getter or that there was mismanagement in the other instance.

Baron de Parana is convinced that the zebroid will prove of great economic importance, especially in the warmer countries, and advises all who are engaged in breeding to take the new product into consideration, he believes that when the zebroid is better known there will be no further use for the common mule — "that the zebroid will be the mule of the twentieth century."

[…] the valuable Grevy zebra "Dan." Lately sent to President Roosevelt by Emperor Menelik of Abyssinia. The Grevy zebra received Its name from the fact that Menelik sent one as a gift to President Grevy of France, in 1552. A second zebra of the same species to be used In the experiment Is that which was a few months ago presented to our Government by Ras Makonen. Menelik's nephew and principal general the warrior, in fact, who walloped the Italians ten years or more ago. The two zebras have been quartered at the National Zoo since their respective arrivals. "Dan" is five years old, measures 13 hands 2 inches and weighs 750 pounds, while the Ras colt is 3 yours old and weighs 600 pounds. Six ordinary good farm mares have been purchased for the experiments, which will be conducted at the Bureau's experiment station. College Park. Md.

Grevy zebras, so far as Is known to our authorities, have never been used to product hybrids with the horse. These specimens are the only zebras of that species ever brought to the "Western Continent. The Grevy zebra is the king of the entire striped horse family, and the most powerful beast of its kind.

To obtain a disease-resistant hybrid is the prime hope of the Bureau of Animal Industries. Zebras are found in the Transvaal to be entirely free from that South Afrlcan scourge called "horse-sickness and to be immune from the bite of the poisonous "tsetse" fly, a carrier of sure death to horses. It thus appears that the blood of the zebra family has a disease-resistant constituent, a natural anti-toxin which would greatly improve that of our horses if admixed therewith.

(The Bureau would be the first to attempt hybrids with the larger, more powerful Grevy’s zebra in the hope of producing disease-resistant, powerful mules for draft and saddle in African climes)

Textual content is licensed under the GFDL.