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A zorse in an 1899 photograph from J.C. Ewart's The Penycuik Experiments. "Romulus: one year old."
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Perissodactyla
Family: Equidae
Genus: Equus
Species: E. zebra × caballus
Binomial name
Equus zebra × Equus caballus

A zorse is a zebroid, specifically the offspring of a zebra stallion and a horse mare. The rarer reverse pairing is sometimes called a horbra or hebra. Like most other animal hybrids, the zorse is sterile.[1]

The zorse is a strong animal with traits from both its parents.

James Cossar Ewart crossed a zebra stallion with horse and pony mares in order to investigate the theory of telegony, or paternal impression. Cossar Ewart used Arabian mares. Similar experiments were carried out by the US Government and reported in "Genetics in Relation to Agriculture" by E.B. Babcock and R.E. Clausen, and in "The Science of Life" by H.G. Wells, J. Huxley and G.P. Wells (c.1929).

Zorses are bred in Africa and used for trekking on Mount Kenya;[2] the zebra parent gives resistance to the nagana pest disease.



Zorses combine the zebra striping overlaid on colored areas of the hybrid's coat. Zorses are most often bred using solid color horses. If the horse parent is piebald (black and white) or skewbald (other color and white) (these are known in the United States as paint/pinto) the zorse may inherit the dominant de-pigmentation genes for white patches, it is understood that Tobiano (the most common white modifier found in the horse) directly interacts with the Zorse coat to give the white markings. Only the non-depigmented areas will have Zebra striping, resulting in a zorse with white patches and striped patches. This effect is seen in the zebroid Eclyse (a hebra rather than a zorse) born in Stukenbrock, Germany in 2007 to a zebra mare called Eclipse and a stallion called Ulysses.

Zorses and humans

Zorses are preferred over zebras for riding and draught for several reasons, although they are still not as easily handled as horses and should not be ridden or purchased by novices. Their more horselike shape, particularly in the shoulder region, makes it easier to obtain harness that fits correctly.

Zebras, being wild animals, and not domesticated like horses and donkeys, pass on their wild animal traits to their offspring. Zebras, while not usually very large, are extremely strong and aggressive. Similarly, zorses have a strong temperament and can be aggressive.

Notable zorses

A zorse (more accurately a zony) was born at Eden Ostrich World, Cumbria, England in 2001 after a zebra was left in a field with a Shetland pony. It was referred to as a Zetland. This was the inspiration for the 2003 'Song For the Zorse' by London band The Coronets. According to local lore brown zorses have been spotted in the foot hills of the Appalachians in and around Charlottesville, Virginia.

Zorses have appeared in several TV shows and movies. In the Viva La Bam episode Groundhogs Day in the final race, Brandon Dicamillo's sled is a Zorse. It was colored pink, blue, purple and red and on the 'uncommentary' on the DVD seasons of 'Viva La Bam' Tim Glomb says "If you send me a list of all the episodes where the Zorse is I'll give you a dollar". Also, the 2007 movie I'm Reed Fish features a zorse named Zabrina. In the movie Racing Stripes, an animated zorse appears in the alternate ending. It is the son of Stripes (a zebra) and Sandy, a grey Arabian mare.

Zorses have also appeared in books. They are briefly mentioned several times in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy novels. Sutton Coleman wrote a sonnet about Zorses and published it in his 2007 book, "Ligers, Tigons, and Zorses, Oh My!"

In Roald Dahl's book Going Solo, he and several other characters speculate on how nice it would be to own a zorse, although they admit it would be difficult to train.


External links


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