So, having a scroll through the most recent entries on this here blog, I notice that it’s been a while since I’ve done any nature-lovin’. I like to keep things shuffling along here through my blog categories. So, I had a think about which weird, unusual, or exciting beastie or natural phenomenon I could celebrate today. I’ve settled on zebras.
Why zebras, why now? Well, to be honest, I think it’s because I’ve been playing Red Dead Redemption. For those of you that don’t game, RDR is sort of like Grand Theft Auto but in the old west. You play a bounty hunter looking to right some wrongs and you get to explore quite a large sandbox-type area. There’s the big mission of stopping your old gang-leader, a real bad guy, once and for all. But, there’s all sorts of side missions you can set out on as well. You can play poker, collect bounties on wanted-criminals, rescue kittens from trees, all sorts. But, one of the best aspects of the game is that you get to form a sort of bond with your horse. And you have to make sure you respect and treat it well, feed it apples if it gets tired, protect it from gunfire and theft…etc…I like my video game horse. A lot! Her name is Cookie.
Horses are cool. You know what else was/is cool? The 1980s. And optical illusions. You know what animal can comfortably fit in all three categories? That’s right, today’s great thing:
Yes, the stripey equid whose visage is used so easily in both optical illusions AND early 80′s minimalist decor. I’m sure you’re already sold on zebras without me elaborating. You’re no dummy! But, since I have to pad out this blog entry a little bit, let me explain further.
First of all, zebras have one up on horses because of their hairstyle. They have a mohawk style mane that sticks straight up. They are the punk rock to the horse family’s emo. The Clash vs My Chemical Romance.
Each stripey design is unique. Though I’m not sure how we can be soooo certain that no two zebras are alike. I mean, can anyone claim to having seen all the world’s zebras ever? It’s like in Napolean Dynamite when Napolean states that the video they’re watching (Uncle Rico’s greatest football passes) is the world’s worst ever. Kit astutely counters: “Napolean, like anyone could even know that.”
Whilst I’m not immediately buying into every zebras stripe pattern being wholly original, I will recognize the science behind the fact that they are split into three main zebra species. I mean, I’m not a climate-change denier or anything. I believe stuff that’s provable. The three are: Grevy’s, Mountain, and Plains zebras. There are some subspecies under each species heading, but I don’t have all day, so let’s just look at the main three, shall we?
Here are pics of each one. Threebras. Can you tell the difference?
Yeah, I can’t really either. And, no matter how hard I stare, I can only see the vase. I can’t see the two faces. But, from what I can glean, there are a few ways to spot the differences. Grevy’s zebras are the biggest. This only works as an indicator if you have all three zebras lined up in a row, I suppose. They also have the thinnest stripes, which are very flattering and slimming. They usually have a thicker stripe on their back that goes all the way to their tail. Mountain zebras have a dewlap (a sort of turkey-neck flap). Plains (or Burchell’s) zebras frequently have lighter colored stripes in between the darker ones. These are called ‘shadow strips’. So, now you know how to tell one zebra from the next. Just like a professional zebra guy.
If not ravaged by a lion, shot by poachers, or starved due to drought, a zebra can live for up to forty years. They are fairly social (they will slow their pace to accommodate sick herd members and will seek out lost any zebra that gets lost) and most species keep to family groups of about 5-20 but that family group can be part of a herd of up to 1000 zebras. It’s making my eyes hurt to think about it.
The name ‘zebra’ actually comes from the Portuguese word ‘zevra’ which refers to a wild ass. (The donkey sort, not Ted Nugent.) Why the Portuguese got to name them, we may never know. But, Scrabble-players everywhere are grateful for their selection.
Though they are reportedly near impossible to train, they were occasionally used in ancient Roman times to pull two-wheeled carts for Circus Maximus exhibitions. Apparently, Lord Rothschild had one too. But that guy was mega rich. I mean, he had a private zoo before Michael Jackson had one. They are also sometimes captured and used for Merry-Go-Rounds.
I’d run straight for the zebra on the carousel when I was kid. (Who picks the benches? What are those even for?). But, even I have to admit that if I saw either of these two options, I’d be tempted:
Sadly, there are two other major species of zebra that have either been already hunted to extinction or are very near that tragic precipice. The first is the Quagga. The quagga was mercilessly poached for its hide and meat and they have vanished from the face of the earth. They are currently trying to re-breed it back into existence. Boo humans…Yay science!
The other subspecies facing extinction, is popular chewing gum spokeszebra–Yipes.
Seen here, snowboarding, Yipes the Zebra needs our help. The deliciously tangy and fruity gumsticks that he shills are a real rarity nowadays. So, if you see some, please make sure and buy a pack. Every little helps.