Friday, May 27, 2011

Things I Find Fascinating #3: Zebras And The People Who Love Them

1) Zebras make great dentists.  This thoughtful zebra took time out of his busy schedule to do a teeth cleaning for his friend, the hippopotamus. The hippo was quite appreciative, especially when it found out that the zebra was offering this service completely free of charge. Unfortunately, the zebra was unable to continue his "practice", as he was soon thereafter caged by the zoo keeper for unlawfully impersonating a doctor.

2)  Zebras make house calls.  In the early 1900s, Rosendo Ribeiro, the first doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, was known to ride his zebra to call on his patients. It is not known for certain what the zebra's wages were (paid in grass), but the zebra was believed to be quite fuel-efficient as compared to other popular forms of transportation at the time.  (This is not Dr. Ribeiro below. They did not have cameras in Nairobi in the early 1900s. For Pete's sake, they only had one doctor!)

3)  No two zebras are alike. 
The black-and-white stripe patterns that so elegantly adorn zebras' bodies are unique to each individual zebra. So you can clearly recognize that that's Stan in the forefront. The three zebras in the immediate background are (from left to right): Lester, Camille, and Jonesy.

4) When they "talk", zebras sound more like a pack of wild dogs than a herd of striped horses. But don't take my word for it. Take a listen for yourself:

5)  A lazy Englishman once used zebras instead of horses to pull his carriage. Zoological collector Lord Rothschild was frequently known to ride through the streets of London in his zebra-drawn carriage. Most of the lord's neighbors (no pun intended) thought he was weird, but one woman in particular thought he looked quite dandy in stripes. She soon became Lady Rothschild. (Not really, I'm making that part up. Who would even marry a guy who collects zebras? – I mean, really!) Here's Lord Rothschild in action:

6)  Zebras travel in (gasp!) harems.  If you couldn't tell from the video above, zebras are very social creatures, and often travel and live in groups. These groups are called harems, quite appropriately, because they typically consist of one stallion and up to six mares and their foals. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion. When attacked by packs of hyenas (or hyena or hyenae or hyenæ) or wild dogs (no interesting plural there), a zebra group will huddle together with the foals in the middle while the stallion tries to ward them off. This particular harem pictured below consists of (from left to right): Doris, Dave, Lucy, Imogene, and Suzette who's way back there in the back.

7)  The preferred mane-style for young zebras (foals) is the Mohawk.  While older, more mature zebras know that it is absolutely unseemly to be seen in public with such a subversive, punk-rock "do", these foals are determined to have their way and do their own thing even if it breaks their parents' hearts. Is this sounding familiar to anyone? This is a recent snapshot of Cato, who's smack-dab in the middle of his awkward middle-school years.

8) This guys loves zebras so much he dedicated an entire song to them.  So the lyrics aren't that great. In fact, the lyrics consist of only one word: "zebra". But I have to admit I've rarely heard a song so strange that I enjoyed so much for absolutely no reason at all. Look closely and you'll see that it's the same guy in all four frames, and he actually harmonizes quite well with himself. Check it out:

Thanks again for indulging my strange fascinations. Hopefully you've learned something, or just been entertained. If you were dissatisfied with this post in any way, I will be happy to offer you a full refund on the money you paid to read it. Until next time....

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