The above report was also published in part in The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. ) Saturday 6 January 1900 and in the Pacific Rural Press, 9 December 1899. Following the report of the Bureau of Animals in Industry, there were further reports in the USA of intentions to further the Baron’s work in the USA:

The Evening Star, Saturday, March 10, 1906, Part 1, pg 2.

Successor To The Mule. Experiments In Breeding Of "Zeroids” Soon To Begin. King Of Striped Horses. Rare Grevy Zebra Is Thus Characterized – Previous Attempts At Hybridization. (Copyright 1906, by John Elfreth Watkins.)

Now that the bureau of plant industry had commenced to meet with encouraging success In Inventing new plant species by hybridization, or cross-breeding, its sister bureau of animal industry is about to undertake the invention of new animal species by the same interesting process. By crossing the striped zebra with the horse, and perhaps with other draft animals, it hopes to create a hybrid which will put the common mule to shame. The mule, as we know, is itself a hybrid of the jackass and the mare, while the “hinny” or “jennet” is a similar offspring of the horse as the male parent and the ass as the mother. Both of these hybrids have been esteemed in this country, especially since the King of Spain presented to George Washington two Andalusian jackasses and a hinny, ancestors or our best mule stock of today.

It is somewhat of a coincidence that the animal selected to be one of the ancestors of the new hybrid breed which may now replace the mule is also a royal gift. It is 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 1882. 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. At the same time the has sent a zebra mare of the Grevy species, but she died before the Abyssinians got her to the Red Sea. To compensate for this loss the Ras threw in a lion and several other beasts. 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 three years 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.

King of Striped Horses. Grevy zebras, so far as is known to our authorities, have never been used to produce 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. It sometimes stands fifteen hands in height, but in form resembles the ass more than the horse. Its ears are particularly large and mobile, and, unlike some other zebras, it is striped down to its hoofs. But the characteristics of marking which distinguish it from all other species are the narrowness and contrast of its stripes, the contrast increasing with age. It is much more powerful and active than the ordinary donkey.

Its home is among the plateaus of Somaliland and Shoa, western central Africa, where especially, in certain seasons of the year, when it becomes very fat, its flesh is prized for food both by the native tribes and by lions. Naturalists regard the Grevy species as the most primitive of all zebras, and it is now believed that the striped horse exhibited in the amphitheatre of Rome, in the third century, A.D., was of this family and not a mountain zebra, as pre-viously supposed. The mountain zebra, once common in South Africa and generally referred to in old works as the "common zebra,” has legs barred to the hoofs and stripes suggesting a gridiron on either side of the tail - two characteristics of the Grevy. also. The mountain zebra which stands at about twelve hands, was once very numerous in the mountains of Cape Colony, but has now almost entirely disappeared from South Africa, although there is a variety left in Angola, Portuguese West Africa.

A third species, named - after its discoverer - the Burchell zebra, is found in South Africa, down as far as the Orange river and along the north and east borders of the Transvaal. It includes some of the striped horses now erroneously referred to as “quaggas,” in spite of the fact that the quagga is now lost or entirely extinct. The Burchell zebra is characterized by its perfectly white legs and has scarcely a vestige oi transverse stripes across either its croup or its loins. When wild herds of Grevy and Burchell zebras have been seen grazing together the former have appeared like horses among a flock of ponies, and it has been noted that whereas Grevy stallions fight viciously among themselves, they never molest the smaller Burchell stallions. A reason for this is suggested by M. Horace Hayes, late captain of “the Buffs,” that Englishman whose book “The Points of a Horse” is now recognized as a standard work. Capt. Hayes says: “The society rules of these animals appear to be much more strict than those of the English peo-ple, for although they have no objection to associating with foreigners, they marry only members of their own class.”

These white-legged Burchell zebras breed well in confinement, and are easy to break in compared with the far more rare Grevy and mountain species. They have been utilized for coach teams in the Transvaal. While being harnessed to the coach they stand quite still and wait for the signal to start, pulling up when required and appearing to be perfectly amenable to the bridle. They are softer mouthed than the mule, and never kick, but when first handled are apt to bite.

To Get Disease-Resistant Hybrid. 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 African scourge called “horse-slckness” 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. Prof. J. C. Ewart of the University of Edinburgh, who lately imported, into Scotland several Burchell zebras, finds, moreover, that they possess marvelous powers of recovering from severe injuries. One of his zebra mares dragged from its place a heavy iron watering trough, and while rearing with fright swung the receptacle about until it had severely bruised and cut its forelegs. In a few days, and much to the professor’s surprise, the animal had entirely recovered, the wounds having healed without swelling or the appearance of pus. Another of his zebras knocked against an upright fence rail and tore out the flesh between the two halves of its lower jaw, leaving a pocket large enough to hold a walnut. In a few days the pocket had closed and the wound mended without a scar or the least irregularlry in the striping.

What Zebroid Will Look Like. Although our scientists will be the first to attempt hybridization with the prized Grevy zebra - sought by others, but never obtained because of its scarcity and difficulty of capture – others have made the experiment with the smaller, more common and more docile Burchell species. Prof. Ewart, above referred to has at Penycuick (pronounced Pennycook), Scotland, bred some interesting hybrids by crossing mares of various sizes and breads with his Burchell zebra stallion “Matope,” also by crossing Burchell zebra mares with donkies and ponies.

Some of the hybrids – to which have been given the name “zebruie,” or “zebroid” – in form and disposition strongly suggest their zebra sire, others their respective dams, but even the most zebra-like in form are utterly unlike the zebra parent in their markings. Rather than resembling a parent, or even a grandparent* they appear to inherit the characteristics of a remote ancastor – in all probability, the professor opines, one thousands of generations removed and far more like the Grevy than the Burchell zebra. This is thought to be due to the fact that the Grevy zebra is the most primitive of surviving types. In some of the zebroids the stripes were abundant and pronounced, while others were but faintly striped and only upon the neck and hind quarters.

That the hybrid inherits the hardiness of the zebra parent is indicated to Prof. Ewart by the case of a zebroid colt two months old. which was found with a flap of skin five inches long and an inch and a half wide, hanging down over the front of its left fetlock. The skin being replaced and stitched, the wound soon healed, leaving only a slight scar. There was no lameness or swelling either below the wound, at the fetlock or above, in the vicinity of the knee.

More Docile Than Mules. Some of his hybrids he describes as having “the very elegant action” of young stags. In disposition the zebra parents are in all respects more intense than horses, more on the alert, more timid and sus-picious. and yet more inquisitive. When he once decides to take action the zebra moves more rapidly than a horse, is more regardless of consequences, and in case of accident suffers more from shock to his nervous system than from physical wounds. The stallion Matopo is terrified at a coil of rope and any serpent-like object he strikes with his hoofs. When his legs are touched with a rope he drops upon his knees or lies down altogether. The first time a blanket was thrown over him he ran, kicked and reared until it was thrown off.

But the zebroid, compared with the zebra parent is, Prof. Ewart says, “as water unto wine.” Although he finds that it may take longer to break zebroids than horses the former will, he thinks, be more amenable to training than ordinary mules and infinitely more easily managed than zebra-ass hybrids. He predicts that hybrids between the large Grevy zebra and the horse – such as we are now to produce – would be as easily managed as ordinary mules. For use by the British in India and Africa he says they would be in every way more useful than mules. Whether the zebroid would be sterile, like the mule, has not yet been answered by these modern experiments. However there is this testimony of Darwin's on the subject, from which the reader may draw his own conclusions: “Many years ago I saw in the zoological gardens a curious triple hybrid from a bay mare by a hybrid from a male ass and a female zebra.”

Will Be the Mule of This Century. The Brazilian minister has forwarded to the bureau of animal Industries some fur-ther data regarding the crossing of the Burchell zebra with the common mare, the experiments having been conducted by Baron de Parana, who has a large plantation in the state of Rio Janeiro. The baron’s hybrids are described as very sprightly but 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 have extraordinary muscular strength. The baron believes that their size, slenderness of form, pace and disposition depend upon the dam, and that they may, therefore, be bred at will for either the saddle or heavy or light draft. Crossing zebras with mares of the heavy Suffolk, Clydesdale or Percheron breeds gives zebroids that are large and very strong, but not so heavy and thick set as their dams, while crossing with mares of lighter breeds, such as Arabs, Normans, etc., produces zebroids that are tall and slender and suitable for work that requires quickness rather than strength. Baron de Parana is convinced that the zebroid will prove of great economic importance, especially in the warmer countries, and advises all stock breeders to consider it. He says that when the zebroid is better known there will be no further use for the common mule, and that “the zebroid will be the mule of the twen-tieth century."

Hagenbeck, the animal trainer, has also crossed the zebra and horse, using a species of zebra from the German coast of East Africa and one which, although it is striped below the knees and hocks, appears to belong to the Burchell group. A pair of the resulting zebroids, harnessed to a carriage, are shown in the accompanying photograph.

At last account Dr. Ewart, the Scotch investigator referred to, had commenced experiments in the crossing of zebras with zebus, or Indian cattle. If he succeeds in this perhaps the world will profit by a horned mule, equipped for heavy offensive action both fore and aft.

(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)

By E. H. Riley, Animal Husbandman in Animal Breeding Division.
Investigations, Animal Husbandry Report, Volume 26, by United States Bureau of Animal Industry, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1911

For several years investigations have been in progress at the Experiment Station of the Bureau of Animal Industry relative to the production of a new and useful hybrid of the mule type. The investigations have not progressed sufficiently to supply the necessary data for a report, but the popular interest they have aroused and the somewhat misleading statements that have appeared from time to time in newspapers and other popular journals seem to make it desirable that an authorized preliminary note be issued.


Zebra hybrid breeding is not a wholly new proposition, as is shown by the following historical sketch from Zebra Hybrids, etc. (1900), by Prof. James Cossar Ewart, of the University of Edinburgh:

The first zebra hybrids bred were between the ass and the zebra mare, later came crosses between the zebra mare and the horse, and, later still, zebra mules-crosses between male zebra's and ordinary mares.

Lord Clive seems to have bred the first zebra hybrid by crossing a female Mountain zebra (which he brought with him on returning from India) with a common ass. About a quarter of a century later (in 1801) a similar hybrid was bred in Italy, and soon after this (in 1806) the first of a series of zebra-ass crosses made its appearance in Paris. Later still, zebra-ass hybrids were bred at Windsor Park (in the time of His Majesty George the Fourth) and at Lord Derby's once famous menagerie at Knowsley. At least one of the Knowsley hybrids was a cross between an Asiatic ass (E. hemionus) and a Burchell zebra mare. A similar hybrid was bred in the Jardin des Plantes, Paris, in 1875, and in 1893 a hybrid between a Burchell zebra mare (Chapman variety) and a white ass was bred in the Zoological Gardens, Melbourne. There is no record of zebra mules having been bred in the Zoological Gardens, London, but it is reported an effort is now being made in this direction. Some of the zebra-ass hybrids bred in Paris found their way about three years ago to England. One of these evidently out of a Burchell zebra mare-I had the opportunity of studying through the kindness of the Hon. Walter Rothschild.

When the first hybrid between a zebra mare and a horse was bred is uncertain. But for the untimely death of a zebra mare, F. Cuvier would have succeeded in obtaining a hybrid of this kind in 1808. In the Jardin d'Acclimatisation several horse-zebra crosses seem to have been obtained prior to 1880, and between 1880 and 1890 three were bred by Lady Meux at Theobalds Park, Hertfordshire.

In 1815 a hybrid of some historic interest was bred by Lord Morton by crossing the often-referred to seven-eighths Arabian chestnut mare with a quagga. A similar hybrid, Darwin tells us, was bred by Lord Mostyn. Later (about 1870), it is said, a cross was obtained in the Jardin des Plantes between a pony mare and a male Mountain zebra.

In 1896, on the 12th of August, my oldest hybrid, Romulus (said to be the first hybrid between a pony mare and a Burchell zebra) made his appearance. A few months later a similar hybrid was born in Brazil-bred by Baron de Parana.
Since 1896 quite a number of hybrids have been bred at Penycuik, and sereral have been added to Baron de Parana's stud in Brazil.

During the past few years a number of more or less successful attempts have been made in Africa to cross small zebras with other members of the horse genus. Hagenbeck, of the trained animal show, succeeded in getting zebra-horse hybrids in this country from mating zebras of one of the Burchell varieties with ponies. He afterwards broke these hybrids to work and found them very satisfactory for that purpose.


The work of the Bureau of Animal Industry differs from that done elsewhere in the fact that the largest type of zebra (Equus grevyi) is being used. It received its first incentive from the impression made by the splendid conformation, large size, and great beauty of a Grevy zebra at the National Zoological Park which had been presented to President Roosevelt by the King of Abyssinia. This zebra was brought to the Bureau Experiment Station in the fall of 1906. Five mares were first selected to mate with him, four grade Percherons, the other of a rather heavy carriage type. These animals occupied adjoining stalls for a time where they became accustomed to one another, and later they were allowed to run together in a small paddock. The zebra took no special notice of the mares, and it was soon evident that they would not mate.

A large Kentucky jennet weighing 950 pounds and 14 hands high, bought for the purpose, and four burro jennets which were kept at the station, were substituted for the mares, the plan being to impregnate the mares artificially, in case the zebra served the jennets. He was much more attentive to his new companions, and after being with them almost daily for eight months, finally mated with one of the burros. Since then there has been no difficulty in getting a service, providing he sees no one, or nothing else attracts his attention. Considering the length of time which elapsed before the first mating, it was thought that possibly zebras had a rutting season, which is common to many other wild animals; but in this case it has not been a fact, as matings have since occurred during every month of the year.

From time to time, extending over a period of nearly two and one-half years, six or seven attempts have been made to impregnate each of the large mares artificially. All the attempts except one were failures, and the mare that was successfully impregnated aborted after being in foal four months. An equal number of similar attempts from stallion or jack services would have resulted in a high per cent of impregnations. Although this abortion was unfortunate, it proves that a hybrid between this large variety of zebra and the mare is possible, and renewed efforts are being made to obtain zebra-horse hybrids by this method of breeding, as well as by direct service.

In order to increase the number of zebras and thus expedite the work, others have been added to the stud. In 1905, through the efforts of Hon. R. P. Skinner, American consul-general at Marseilles, France, a pair of Grevy zebras were presented to the Department of Agriculture by Ras Makonnen, governor of Harrar, Abyssinia. The female of this pair died in transit before reaching the African coast. The male arrived here safely, but was injured accidentally in the National Zoological Park, where he had been sent on his arrival, and died shortly after.

In September, 1907, a young male and a female Grevy zebra were received direct from Abyssinia. The female became sick a day or two after arriving and died a month later. In April, 1908, two young female Grevy zebras were imported from Abyssinia. These animals arrived in apparently good condition, but one of them died suddenly the following October. This importation, as well as the preceding one, was made possible through the courtesy of Consul-General Skinner. The remaining female foaled a dead filly sired by the older zebra, after a gestation period of three hundred and ninety days, which is said to be the usual period for zebras. She has since been bred to him again. All of these zebras have been captured in their wild state. So far as known, Grevy zebras have never been domesticated, although they are easily handled. The young male zebra and the remaining female are very gentle and have been ridden and driven to a breaking cart. Two grade Thoroughbred mares, averaging 850 pounds, that is, nearly the size of the zebra, were turned into a paddock with this male, and other mares have been with him at intervals for about two years, but as yet they have not mated. These animals were together several months before the zebra paid any attention to them. No attempt has been made to breed this zebra to jennets.

The results with zebra-ass hybrids thus far have been successful. Eleven of these hybrids have been foaled, six colts and five fillies. Two colts out of the Kentucky jennet were born dead. Two other colts and one filly out of burro jennets were in such a weak condition when born that they died within one or two days. Two colts and four fillies are now alive and vigorous. They are apparently as hardy and endure the cold of this climate as well as the donkeys. A difference in degree of vigor was shown in these hybrids by a lopped-eared condition which existed in all the foals except the last two, which had erect ears. The ears of the other hybrids which lived assumed a natural position after a week or ten days. The two female zebras, the zebra foal, and all the hybrids which died were sent to the National Museum.

Considerable difficulty was experienced at first in getting the jennets with foal. Each of them was served from two to eight times, at different periods of heat, before they became pregnant. Those that had a second colt by the zebra required but one or two services. Each of these donkeys previously had foals sired by a jack, in which but one or two services were required for an impregnation. The period of gestation for the production of the zebra-ass hybrids averaged three hundred and seventy-eight days.

These hybrids show a decided improvement over either parent in action, conformation, and disposition. Their sire weighs 800 pounds and is 131 hands high. The average weight of their dams is 550 pounds, and the average height 12 hands. The weight of the young at birth averaged 48 pounds. Two of these hybrids have reached the age of one year, at which time they weighed 500 pounds each and measured 12 hands in height. They have good action, a neat, clean-cut appearance, and are as easily handled as horse foals of the same age. These zebra-ass hybrids will be kept until they reach the breeding age, after which they will be tested as to fertility, among themselves, and also with horses, zebras, and asses. Considering the apparent similarity of the species to which zebras and asses belong, there may be a possibility of their hybrids being fertile.


AMERICA MAKES SOME NEW ANIMALS - By Frank Thone (Miami Daily News Record, 7th March, 1929):- Every once in a while someone takes a notion to hybridize the zebra with the horse or the donkey. It isn’t especially hard to do, for all three animals are fairly closely related - as closely, say, as cattle and zebu are, and more closely than cattle and bison. The offspring are called by various names, such as “zebrass" and "zebrule." As a rule they are of no practical use, for they, usually inherit the wild intractability of their striped ancestors; but at any rate they are interesting animals and make nice specimens for zoos. At present the U. S. Zoological Park in Washington has two of these zebra hybrids, one a cross between zebra and horse and the other between zebra and ass. The physical characteristics of the parent stock are apparent in both these unusual animals.


(The Nebraska State Journal, 28 June, 1926)
Indiana Man Successful in Producing a Curious Cross That Will Interest Farmer.

The first man to have any practical success in crossbreeding the zebra and the horse is Dr. W. E. Hastings of Mt. Vernon, Ind. The result is a new mule, the zebroid, which Farm and Fireside recently investigated and pronounces a real achievement. Dr. Hastings’ object was to produce an animal that, on the same amount of food, could work harder in hot weather than the mule. This he has succeeded in doing; and authorities believe that in time his accomplishment will prove of great benefit to farmers and others who find mule teams essential for certain types of hauling and farm work.

The department of agriculture, realizing the importance of developing a new mule that could stand the heat better than the familiar type, conducted an experiment with this object in mind. The department’s experiment was the most successful before Hastings tried. The result of the experiment was a horse-like animal, which the department’s officials named “zebrass.” There was no question of its capacity for standing heat, but it proved as wild as a zebra and entirely useless for other than exhibition purposes. It is now pawing up the ground in the zoo at Washington, D. C.

Victor Green, the expert selected by Farm and Fireside to investigate the zebroid after Dr. Hasting’s experiment of years had reached the point where he was ready for the analytical appraisal of an agricultural publication, writes:

"Shortly before the war started Dr. Hastings decided to attempt to combine the best qualities of the zebra and the horse, and went to Germany for his zebra. He bought a zebra mare and brought it to his 1,300-acre farm, ten miles southwest of Mt. Vernon, Ind. But on the voyage across the ocean the zebra hit her head on a bar in its cage, fracturing the skull, and shortly after reaching the farm she died.

“Dr. Hastings made another trip to Germany. This time he obtained a Grevy's zebra stallion and got it safely back to his farm. Here it made itself at home, condescending to live with the farm horses and mules and finally submitting to work with them. It was crossed with white Arabian mares, with Percherons and with common farm mares. The Percherons produced the zebrolds with the best stripe. Apart from this, little difference could be noted in the hybrids. The zebroids look much like the average mule, but are more heavily boned and muscled. Deep chests, large necks, broad shoulders and strong legs especially mark them, aside from their zebra-like stripes.

“As would be expected from their ancestry, zebroids are somewhat harder to break than common farm animals. Dr. Hastings first worked them to harrows and drags, hitching one zebroid in a team with three old mules or horses. Their education progressed rapidly. Now at six years of age, his eight zebroids do farm work that horses can perform, and on the same feed. A whip has rarely to be used on them. True to the characteristics of their ancestors who raced over the baked soil of the hot African veldts, these zebrolds can stand far more heat than any mule. This is one of the principal advantages of the zebra strain.

“At nearby fairs, where Dr. Hastings showed his zebroids, the tent was always the center of a curious throng of spectators. That the animals could work harder and in hotter weather than mules on the same amount of food had to be conceded. But skeptics didn’t believe a zebroid could be as smart as a mule.
To answer the question, Dr. Hastings obtained the services of an animal trainer — the only special trainer ever used with the zebroids. During one winter, after the farm work was finished the trainer took them in charge. In a short time they were taught to execute the various military maneuvers which, with horses instead of zebroids, is a feature of every circus.

“From my own trip to the Hastings farm I am convinced as to the intelligence and the endurance of this new mule. At noon I saw tired horses and mules contentedly munching their corn. But not so the zebroids! Separated from the rest of the animals in a large pen, they showed every sign of being full of life. ‘Playful’ the farmhands called it. If one judged that another was getting more than his share of feed, a few well-aimed snaps would turn the offender into a whirlwind of flying hoofs and snapping teeth. Horses cannot be turned into the same lot with zebroids, Dr. Hastings told me — they get hurt.

“The zebroids go quietly in harness, but race once you turn them loose in an enclosure, showing more speed and agility in pivoting at the corners than any mule possesses, and they rival their wild forebears in their ease in clearing fences. One of the eight was especially trained to jump and, much to the disgust of the farmhands, now sails easily over fences that no mere mule could hope to negotiate.

“ ‘But don’t get the idea that we have a bunch of wild animals out here,’ said Dr. Hastings. ‘In spite of their liveliness and speed zebroids are dependable workers. To prove this several of the zebroids were haltered with little trouble and docilely submitted to being led out to pose for pictures, even allowing the men to climb on their backs. The animals are valued at $1,000 each."

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