(The Field, 17th June 1893)

IN MY LAST ARTICLE on the species of the genus Equus, I spoke of the hybrids between the horse and the ass. To conclude the series I have now to enumerate the other hybrids which have been produced between the different species. I am aware that the list will be very incomplete, and should be glad of additional information as to other examples of hybrids between other species beyond those that I shall enumerate.

The horse will undoubtedly produce hybrid offspring with many other species in addition to the ass. Hybrids between the horse and the quagga have been recorded, and also between the horse and the Asiatic wild ass, one of which was a short time since, and probably now is, existing in the Jardin des Plantes. Hybrids between the horse and Buchell's zebra are by no means uncommon. Some years since a female Burchell, obtained from the Zoological Society, was turned out into the park at Theobalds by Sir Henry Meux, when she produced two fillies, which were described by myself in the Field. The elder of these was sired by one of the ponies in the park, and showed the stripes of the zebra only to a moderate degree. The second filly was the produce of an American trotting pony; it was beautifully striped, not only on the legs and neck, but also on the haunches. At the time that I saw these fillies they had not been handled, and, having a good allowance of corn, they were rather skittish. Like the ordinary mules, they might easily have been tamed, and would no doubt have become perfectly quiet with gentle handling. From the condition in which they were placed, running free with the ponies, their non-fertility may be regarded as being satisfactorily demonstrated.

The hybrids of the ass (Equus asinus) are of considerable interest. Those with the horse, that is to say, the mule and the hinny, have already been spoken of. In the Knowsley Menagerie there is figured a hybrid between a Maltese male ass and the zebra. In this individual the head and body were marked with stripes, which were narrow except on the shoulder, where the cross was distinctly marked and shown as being forked. On the hind quarters the stripes were broken up into spots, giving a very interesting demonstration of the manner in which spotted animals are produced as variations from such as were originally striped. There is also figured another mule between a male ass and the zebra. It is of a grey colour, with an indistinct cross and a few narrow stripes on the shoulders and forelegs. In this the tail is elongated, tufted at the end, the upper pert being slightly banded with transverse stripes, and the ears moderate in length. This, though apparently bred from the same species of zebra, and with the male parent an ass in both cases, is very different from the mule bred from the Maltese ass, it having scarcely any stripes at all.

Another hybrid bred from the common ass and male Burchell's zebra is grey with indistinct bands on the front of the back and a short but distinct shoulder band divided into three below. This animal has several cross bands on the outside of the legs. It was driven in a tandem, and the skin was afterwards deposited in the British Museum.

Another hybrid bred from the domestic male and the Asiatic wild ass (E. hemionus) was also figured in the Knowsley Menagerie. This was exceedingly like the mother, although showing a black cross shoulder stripe with indistinct bands i n the hock and around the knee. This animal was said to become somewhat greyer in winter.

The hemione, or Asiatic wild ass, has bred with the Burchell’s zebra. A hybrid produced was figured in the Knowsley Menagerie, but unfortunately the sex of the parents is not stated. The animal represented is reddish-grey, with the head, neck, and fore part of the body covered with narrow, dark streaks, which are rather indistinct. Lord Derby, writing in the same work, speaks of hybrids from the male hemione, or, as be terms it, the dshikketei, with both E. burchelli and E. zebra. The foals in each case were females. Both were perfectly barren. That from E. burchelli was the handsomest, and was kept by himself. The other, from E. zebra, was given to the Zoological Gardens, and although less symmetrical, it was more beautifully marked. The Asiatic wild ass was proved by his lordship's experiments to breed with the three species of zebra, namely, E. zebra, E. burchelli, and E. quagga.

The most singular example that was figured in the Knowsley Menagerie was the produce of a male mule bred from the male and zebra) with a bay pony mare. This example of the fertility of an ass and zebra hybrid is very interesting. The produce may be described as being iron-grey in colour, with a short, narrow dark band on the withers, very faint stripes on the side, but with distinct dark stripes on the hocks and knees. It possessed a most remarkable tail, that was bushy from the very base, like that of a horse; the head was heavy, and the neck surmounted by a grey and brown mane. This singular animal, which was most remarkable from its triple parentage, was 8 hands high, and was regularly used in harness, drawing a light cart.

There are doubtless many other hybrids that may have been produced; but these are all, with any authentic records, to which I have access, and I should be glad if any of the readers of these papers would furnish me with any distinctly authenticated instance, of other individuals, with their exact parentage and the sex of the parents. It would be also exceedingly important to know if any other example beyond the one that I have quoted from the Knowsley Menagerie of the fertility of any of these hybrids could be adduced. Sir William Flower, in his work on the horse, says "Although occasional Instances have been recorded of female mules breeding with the males of one or other o! the parent species, it is doubtful if any case occurred of their breeding inter se, though the opportunities of doing so must have been very great, as mules have been reared in immense numbers for several thousands of years." Sir William Flower does not adduce any particular examples of female mules breeding, and from what I have said in the last article it will be seen that the fact cannot be regarded as satisfactorily proved. Even the above quoted case of the singular hybrid at Knowsley with a triple parentage, it will be seen it was the male parent that was a mule between the ass and the zebra, and that the animal was bred from a pony mare. As I have said before, I think it exceedingly desirable that greater attention should be paid to the economic value of the different species of the genus Equus and their hybrid progeny. It is apparently only at the present time that the Cape colonists have arrived at the conclusion that Burchell’s zebra is a desirable beast of draught and of burden. This fact, however, may be regarded as being very distinctly demonstrated. A number were introduced into Europe a short time since, and soon of these are now being driven, and, to show their docility, I have very great pleasure in reproducing the photograph to which I alluded last week, showing four Burchells driven in a four-in-hand in a two-wheeled Cape cart. This demonstrates the fact that they can not only be employed in teams with other animals, as shown in the drawing in the Field of March 11, but that they can be used alone. Burchell's zebras are now on sale in the Cape at prices averaging about £10, and I know of an instance of an eminent zoologist entering into negotiations for the introduction of a number of Burchell's zebras, not for the purpose of exhibiting in zoological collections, but to demonstrate their utility as beasts of draught, to ascertain their prolificacy in this country with their own and other species, and their capabilities of adaptation to the conditions of life that here obtain.



It would appear that all the different species of the genus Equus are capable of breeding together and producing hybrid offspring, some of which are perfectly sterile mules, whilst others are apparently fertile, either with one or other parent species if not inter se. Some of these hybrids are of great economic value, and it is deeply to be regretted that the opportunities that have presented themselves in our European zoological collections have not been utilised as they might have been, in introducing new species into the service of man, and in producing other useful hybrids beyond the common mule. In the present chapter I propose to enumerate, as far as practicable, the various equine hybrids that have been produced, and of which any definite account has been published, commencing with those of the horse.

It appears most probable, though it has not been absolutely proved, that the horse is capable of producing hybrids with every other species of the genus Equus. The hybrid between the horse and the ass is well known. When the ass is the male parent it is termed a mule ; on the other hand, if the horse is the sire the produce is termed a hinny, or in some places a jennet. The consideration of the breeding and practical utilisation of these two hybrids will be fully treated of in the concluding chapters.

The horse has bred repeatedly with both the Mountain and Burchell's zebra. In the Jardin d'Acclimatation there is at the present time a hybrid between the horse and the Burchell’s zebra, of bright bay colour, with black legs and distinct dorsal stripe. Some years since I described some hybrids between the horse and the female Burchell which were in the park of Sir Henry Meux at Theobalds. The sire of one was an ordinary park pony, that of the other an American trotting pony. This latter hybrid was striped on the legs, neck, and haunches. Both of them, as might be expected, showed much of the equine character and form of the male parent; and from the relative sexes of the parents they necessarily partook more of the characters of the hinny than of the mule.

Early in this century a pair of hybrids, bred between the horse and BurchelFs zebra, were driven about London in the service of the Zoological Society, but I have not been able to ascertain definitely the relative sex of the two parents, but believe they were hinnys from a zebra mare. The horse has also bred with the Asiatic ass {E. hemionus). In a private letter Lieutenant J. L. Harrington informs me of a male Hemione breeding with an Indian pony, and producing a hybrid that, with the exception of the tail, which was asinine, looked more like a pony than anything else.

Two hybrids, between a Hemione and a mare, in the Jardin d'Acclimatation, were described by the late Mr. Jenner Weir. One of these is a very beautiful animal, possessing no shoulder stripes, and with very faint dorsal stripe.

The hybrids between both sexes of the ass and the horse have been spoken of under the last heading. The ass also hybridises freely with Burchell’s zebra ; a hybrid of this is now in the Jardin d^Acclimatation. It is rather sparely striped, but the three shoulder stripes are well marked.

The Asiatic Ass hybridises with the horse, as has been already stated. It has also been mated with Burchell’s zebra in the Jardin des Plantes, the produce being a faintly striped animal with a broad dorsal stripe, the hind quarters of which are not striped but dappled. The cross between the Asiatic ass and the mare has been already named.

Several of these were apparently recorded in the "Knowsley Menagerie," but sufficient care was not taken to distinguish between the two species, namely, the Mountain and Burchell’s zebras.

Burchell’s zebra breeds most freely with several of the other species of Equus, and there is no doubt whatever that the hybrids of this most horse-like of the asses and zebras now existing would be exceedingly valuable to man if the animals were mated as carefully as is done in breeding heavy draught mules in Poitou, and pack mules for the military service in India. The Burchell is an animal much better adapted by its structure and form to the use of man than the other wild asses, and were it properly mated and utilised would no doubt produce most valuable hybrid offspring. The hybrids of the Burchell zebra with the horse have already been mentioned ; it also breeds freely with the common ass. In the Gardens of the Zoological Society at Melbourne there are some Burchell's zebras that were bred in Paris, for this most useful animal breeds freely in confinement. On September 6th, 1892, an experiment was made by crossing the zebra with a white so-called Siamese ass, which was obviously a variety of the domesticated Equus asinus. The foal was born on October 25th, 1893, showing that the period of gestation in Burchell's zebra resembles that of the ass in being considerably over twelve months. The young one is described as a strong, vigorous animal, galloping round the enclosure when a day old and evincing considerable speed. Its colour is somewhat remarkable, not resembling that of its white sire, but being very dark with pronounced shoulder and dorsal stripes, black tips to its ears, and bars on the legs, which are well marked, especially over the joints — the zebra from which it was bred being a true Burchell, not marked on the legs like the variety known as Chapman^ s zebra. The foal is described as being a compact and well-made little animal, showing splendid bone. As the progeny of the Burchell zebra are likely to attract much attention, I reproduce the photograph as it was published in the Australasian.

In the Jardin d'Acclimatation there is another hybrid between a Burchell's zebra and a white Egyptian ass, which shows three distinct shoulder stripes, but otherwise is very faintly marked.

A hybrid between a male Burchell’s zebra and the common ass was bred by the Earl of Derby and figured in the "Knowsley Menagerie." It was utilised by being driven in tandem, and the skin was afterwards deposited in the British Museum. The Hemione or Asiatic wild ass has also been bred with Burchell' s zebra.

In Colonel Hamilton Smith's unpublished volume he gives a portrait, drawn by himself, of a hybrid, the foal of a quagga and a brood mare. This was faintly striped on the fore-quarters.

In the fine collection of plates known as the “Knowsley Menagerie” there are numerous illustrations of the wild Equidae, more especially of the striped species inhabiting Africa, namely, the Equus zebra, E. burchellii, and E. quagga. All these species interbreed, not only with each other, but with the wild unstriped asses of Asia. Dr. Gray figured in the “Knowsley Menagerie” a mule bred at Knowsley between a male Tibetan wild ass, or kiang, and the female zebra. In this the legs and neck are banded. There is also a figure of a mule between a Maltese male ass and zebra, in which the head, neck, and legs are well striped, the body less so, and the hind quarters profusely spotted. Should any of my readers refer to the plate in the folio they will find that the names of those two have been transposed, as is evident on referring to the text. There are also figured a mule between Burchell’s zebra and the common ass ; a second between the ass and the kiang, the titles of which are also transposed on the plate ; finally, we have a mule between the kiang and Burchell's zebra, and, what is very interesting, a representation of the offspring of a mule, of male ass and zebra parentage, with a bay pony mare. This strange animal may be described as iron-grey, with a short, narrow dark band on the withers, very faint indications of perpendicular stripes on the sides, distinct dark stripes on the hocks and knees, a horse-like tail, bushy from the base, and a heavy head with a grey hog mane. This creature, singular from its triple parentage, was eight hands high, and was regularly used in harness.

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