Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Why don’t we ride Zebras?

I suppose the simple answer to the question posed above is: Zebras are not domesticated. So why haven’t we domesticated Zebras or all other animals for that matter? The list of domesticated species is actually very short. This is not to say we haven’t tried. It just seems that most species are intractable to domestication. Bugger, there are limitations to our powers, after all.

First it is necessary to distinguish between domestication and taming. A wild animal can be tamed if exposed to extensive human contact when young or hand reared. This is an acquired trait although some individuals of a species may be genetically disposed toward taming more than other members of the same species. Fundamentally, however, they remain a wild animal. Domestication involves selective breeding, generally over many thousands of  generations, to select desired genetic traits. Once this is achieved the domestic animal becomes dependent upon their human masters to the extent that most individuals would not survive if returned to the wild- although there are exceptions.      

This has got me thinking. If we can’t domesticate most animals then there must be underlying limitations. Humans have proved very resourceful when it comes to manipulating the environment and all therein. So what are the limitations to domestication? Here is Flaxen Saxon’s take on the problem, in no particular order.

1.   Not picky eaters. You have to select a species that you can feed easily. Pandas are a no show because they only eat bamboo shoots. Can’t find bamboo shoots in Tipton, unless you go to the Asian store.
2.    They must be able to breed in captivity. No good having precious species that can’t mate once caught. I suppose you could give the said species a ‘helping hand’. Not necessarily sustainable unless it is a particularly rare species that needs a coddling, like a Panda.
3.   Species adopted by man are generally social animals with a hierarchy. Thus, they fit well into our society and recognise us as pack leader.
4.   A pleasant disposition: Not all animals are so disposed- some are just ornery. Zebras are particularly nasty and have been known to kick lions to death. They have to be this way to survive on the Savannah- the world is a tough place.
5.   They have to grow quickly. Most domestic species are bred because they are good to eat; sad but true. Have you eaten dog? Nice if you get it young enough. If not part of the menu, the animal fulfils a useful work role. Dogs were not always cute lap dogs suckling at our expansive and opulent teats; they helped with the hunt. Some dogs remain working hounds to this day. I have three lap dogs, but I also have three nipples, so it works.                      
6.    The animal must be of a calm disposition. Nervous and skittish creatures are difficult to tame. Apparently, this is why the fox has never been tamed as it is endowed with a brittle temperament.

There are always exceptions. The so-called 'domestic' cat takes little heed of the above list. Aloof and barely sociable, the feline conspicuously ignores any notion of hierarchy concerning its 'owner'. The cat is happy eating the finest viands his master or mistress can provide before slinking off to devour a sewer rat, whole. Neither do they taste good or can be trained to undertake the slightest useful task. Cats are capricious, unpredictable and subject to whim. Nevertheless, they compel us to feed, comfort and shelter them. In fact, they remain the ultimate predator and parasite. Cats are essentially feral with a faint varnish of domestication, lightly burnished. And unlike 'Mitzy' the miniature Dachshund, they can fend for themselves in the wild and thrive. 

It has just occurred to me- Zebras have weak backs.   

That's my thesis down the crapper...


  1. ".....Neither do they taste good......."

    How would you know?
    And don't even think about responding with some racist shit about cuisine and 'Asian" restaurants in Tipton or the like.
    Cat is fine, if a bit chewy, dog is better. And it don't taste like chicken, it tastes like cat!

    And your thesis is crap regardless of the photograph of the fruit on the Zebra. He is not 'riding' the beast - it is standing - now is he? For all we know, it could be a stuffed specimen from the local Natural History Museum. In fact, the rider himself looks a bit stiff, perhaps he is part of the exhibit?

    And that llama on the periphery of the photograph is probably thinking, "That Caucasoid better not be thinking about mounting me next. I'll be learning him the same lesson I done taught the Inca. lles?

    And llama and zebra in the same place? Looks like one of those Disney cartoons that place elephants and lions in the background and leaf-cutter ants in the fore. Or fucking polar bear and penguin on the same ice floe. No wonder young Caucasoids are stupid!

    1. You know me too well, M: I wouldn't dream of mentioning Mr Kim's Korean restaurant, 'Chow Down', in Dudley. As for the Zebra thing- it gotta be true I read it on the netty.

      I do know a thing or two about Llamas. Remember, I was a groucho on the pampas.

    2. A groucho on the pampas? My ample cuy-fed arse you were. Groucho at the Ritz, maybe.

  2. " is a particularly rare species that needs a coddling, like a Panda...."


    As in 'coddle an egg or fruit'?
    Oh dear.
    I must report this blog to PETA and the WWF.