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Anecdotes from the Archive

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Anecdotes from the Archive: What’s black and white and brown all over?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Answer: The Zebrass.

The zebrass is a mix between an African zebra and a Texas donkey. This hybrid first came to be, according to the May 7, 1910 article, when President Theodore Roosevelt was given a royal Abyssinian zebra from King Menelik of Ethiopia. The President "turned the striped creature over to the [government] experiment station, and here the idea of developing a new race of animals was conceived."

The zebrass was supposed to display the "docility, strength, and utility" of the mother donkey, and the "spirit, activity, and beauty" of the father zebra. I’m not sure how this ended up working out.

This article got me thinking about other zebra-hybrids that I’d like to see happen, like a zig, a zebear, and a zebroctopus. Any other ideas?



About the Author: Mary Karmelek is a production assistant for Nature Publishing Group and is currently working on Scientific American’s Digital Archive Project, where she spends countless hours scouring articles and ads of decades long ago. She graduated with her MA in English from Fordham University in 2010 and currently resides in New York City. While her educational background is in gender and war trauma in modernist literature, Mary also has a keen interest in the historical and visual documentation of science, nature and medicine.

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  1. 1. rikkus 10:16 am 02/22/2011

    What’s black and white and looks like a horse?

    A zebra.

    Link to this
  2. 2. JDahiya 9:17 am 03/4/2011

    If you name the zebroctopus Paul, it can give you … black and white predictions!

    Link to this

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