Hybrid Quagga Foal

A Cross Between a Zebra and Donkey

This is a Yorkshire World Collections object, one of 100 chosen by young people aged 16-24, as part of the London Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.

No, that's not a misprint: the Quagga was a type of Zebra, but brown, and with fewer stripes. They lived in Southern Africa, but were exterminated by European settlers. The last known living Quagga died in captivity in a Dutch Zoo in 1883.

This is not a true Quagga, of course: it's a hybrid. Its mother was a Quagga, and its father a donkey. It was born at Owston Hall, owned by Philip Davies Cooke, on 1 April 1821 (and no, it's not an April Fools joke either!). It only survived for three weeks, but Cooke was clearly
taken with the young foal, and had it stuffed. This unique specimen is a truly global object, being the product of animals transported from Africa and bred in captivity in one of Britain's earliest Safari Parks. It also reflects the developing interests and follies of Britain's wealthy families at the start of the Victorian era.

Read about another African animal who died in captivity; and also Fenella the Tiger who had a slightly better life in captivity.

Ideas for Discussion:

  • Do you think it is morally right to cross breed wild animals in captivity?
  • How do you think our attitudes to wildlife have changed since Victorian times?
  • What is the difference between an 'endangered species' and an 'extinct' species?
  • What animals do you know of that are on the verge of extinction?
  • Can you think of a famous modern naturalist alive today who would probably have very strong views about animals bred in captivity?

The map below shows where the Quagga foal was born in 1821.

Document icon Learning article provided by: Doncaster Museum Education Service | 
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