why couldn't humans tame zebras ??

They tamed horses, elephants …

why not zebra ?? Is it that zebra is non tamable inherently ??

The don’t have the right dipsosition

From a few searches on the web (nothing much more reliable than wikipedia) it seems you can tame zebras to some degree.


also: pictures!


Thanx !

I should have googled first !!

Sometimes the line between a truly wild animal and a domesticated one isn’t so black and white.

Ouch! That one hurt.

Well done.

::golf clap::

There’s a difference between tamed species and domesticated species. Many animals can be tamed - feral animals can be captured and taught to live among humans and do work. But economically, it’s a dead end. Tamed animals require a large wild population of the species and the constant ongoing work of capturing and teaching new animals. In the long run, only animals from domesticated species can really become part of the human economy. These animals are from species that can not only be trained but can also be easily bred in captivity.

True, but how did the domesticated species get that way?

Nowadays there’s no economic incentive to spend 500 years converting some Cape Buffalo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_buffalo into a strain of easy-to-handle monster-oxen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxen. But that’s where current cattle came from.
So going back to the OP, the question is one of timeline. Given some motivation & a couple hundred years, we probably could make an adequate beast of burden out of a zebra. But why?

Even in parts of the world where beasts of burden are economically valuable, the current species that are already perfected do the job well enough. Over thousands of years, humanity has had plenty of time and motivation to have picked the most promising species & run them through the domestication process. If some utterly new species was discovered tomorrow there might be a reason to get to work on it, but zebras were known to the ancients.

Unlikely, or it would have been done. The people of Africa could’ve used domesticated zebras; they had milennia to do so, but no one’s ever managed to do so on any large scale.

No, in many parts of the world, there were no beasts of burden available. Because none of the available animals could be domesticated.

Exactly. So they almost certainly tried, and failed.

Cattle are not descended from Cape buffalo. You couldn’t possibly even begin to domesticate Cape buffalo; they’re murderous, vicious animals that will kill anything that pisses them off. You’d have to be suicidal to get close to one.

Domestic cattle are descended from aurochs, which presumably were - well, they really HAD to be - far tamer than Cape buffalo.

Maybe YOU couldn’t domesticate Cape buffalo. But what about CHUCK NORRIS?

Chuck Norris doesn’t “domesticate” animals. Animals beg Chuck Norris to be allowed to serve him. He didn’t think the dinosaurs asked nicely enough.

You have officially made the best Chuck Norris joke ever.

Somebody get the BCNJE hat for RickJay.

Very nice. Rare to see one of those that’s original.

The people of sub-Saharan Africa never had widescale agriculture or iron metal implements and typically did not migrate across long distances, hence the lack of need for beasts of burden. The training and keeping of domesticated animals, especially large herbivores, carries significant cost that has to be offset by the utility it provides to the lifestyle enjoyed by the society that would husband it, so it’s not just a matter of whether a particular species is domesticatible, but whether the society has a positive cost/benefit ratio, and also the underlying knowledge of breeding and training of domestic animals which simply didn’t exist in sub-Saharan Africa due to the very limited trading and cultural exchange.

Most large domesticated animals originate from Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, and Persia, with a few coming from Arabia/Egypt, and the llama being the only beast of burden in South America (and then limited primarly to the Andes), and not used for agriculture despite the large and highly developed agrarian societies in South America prior to European conquest. Curiously, Europe and later North America–which enjoyed the benefits of intensive animal husbandry and protein- and fat-rich animal byproducts, allowing large scale habitation of the otherwise marginally profitable northern climes–imported all domestic animals from the East, but came to develop virtually all modern animal husbandry methods and technologies.

As for domesticating the extant species of zebra, I suspect it could be done through generations of selective breeding, though I doubt you’d get a creature that would be fun to ride even if it could be bred to a suitable disposition. Grevy’s Zebra might become an adequate substitute for the donkey as a pack animal, but given that the modern need for pack animals is really limited to a very small niche, I doubt anyone would be so inclined to do so.


I feel like I mention this book too much, but it really is applicable a lot on SDMB - in “Guns, Germs, and Steel” the author discusses animal domestication. He states that humans have attempted to domesticate every animal. He says that the problem is parallel to marriages - every good marriage is the same, but every bad marriage is different in its own unique way. Meaning that to be happily married, you must be on the same page when it comes to politics, religion, money, kids, discipline, etc…but a bad marriage usually has issues in some random combination of aforementioned.

Using that analogy, the author (Jared Diamond) says that to domesticate an animal (not just break/tame), there must be many factors in line. Males must get along during mating season, the animals must be able to be caged (some cannot, I believe deer for example), they must not be too aggressive towards humans (i.e. the Zebra), they must mate in captivity, and several other factors I’ve since forgotten.

One thing he also mentioned that stuck with me - every successfully “domesticated” animal was naturally in a structure involving a dominant, alpha male or female. Humans in a sense took over that role in many animals (like the dog and horse). Interestingly, one of the few that doesn’t fit this mold is the house cat, probably because their skills (hunting rodents) do not require our instruction or domination.

Oh, and the evidence points to the goat as being the first domesticated animal. They’re very rugged and hardy, produce milk and meat (and maybe some fur?), and like to follow humans around.

It’s been done.


I guess my question should have been why couldn’t humans **domesticate ** zebras ??
thanx for the responses…

Because nobody thought to try waterboarding.