When you hear the word “pet,” the first animals that often come to mind are dogs, cats, or goldfish. On rare occasions, you may think of a horse or a pony for a pet. But how about zebras? Can you own a pet zebra? More importantly, is it even legal to own a zebra? In this article, you’ll know all about owning or adopting zebras.
On average, you can buy a pet zebra for somewhere between $3,000 to $10,000. The cost depends on several factors, such as the size and gender of the zebra. It also depends on how the zebra was imported into the country.
With that said, you may be curious about zebra ownership. Are they easy to train? What are their needs? How much does it cost to raise a zebra?
Can Zebra Be Domesticated?
Zebras cannot be domesticated. Jared Diamond, a renowned biologist, lists several factors before an animal can be considered for domestication. For an animal to be successfully domesticated, Diamond explained that it should meet the following criteria:
- The animal should have no problem eating whatever the human provides.
- The animal should have a fast growth rate so as not to drain human resources.
- The animals should have no problem with breeding in captivity.
- The animal should not show hostility towards humans while in captivity.
- The animal is capable of recognizing the human as its superior.
- The animal should not tend to panic and become unpredictable.
From the criteria above, it is easy to see that the zebra does not meet all of them. Particularly, zebras tend to become unpredictable because of their life in the wild. Some zebras were also observed to show hostile behavior towards humans. Remember that a zebra can kick with enough strength to kill a lion, which makes zebras dangerous.
However, there are rare instances of zebras becoming accustomed to living with humans – such as the zebras famously owned by Baron Walter Rothschild. But even then, these are not the norm and are usually a result of a long process of introducing a new lifestyle to this exotic animal.
Can You Legally Own a Zebra?
Owning a zebra is legal in some states in the United States of America. Some states may even allow you to freely own exotic animals with minimal paperwork, like in Nevada. However, there are some states, like North Dakota, that are quite strict about exotic pet ownership and will require you to acquire a license before owning a zebra.
But in most states, including Rhode Island and Tennessee, you can only own a zebra if you’re running a zoo, or conservatory, or are engaged in some kind of research work involving exotic animals.
Where to Buy Zebra?
It is not easy to find a zebra breeder, owing to the lengthy process that is usually involved in owning one. But with that said, there are some ranches and farms that specialize in breeding zebras. Some livestock stores even conduct exotic animal auctions where you can bid on owning a zebra – if you’re lucky enough to catch one being auctioned off.
Factors That Influence the Price of a Zebra
From the previous discussion, there’s no denying that buying a pet zebra can be very expensive. However, the price of a zebra can vary based on several factors, such as its age, gender, importation costs, and breed.
- Age. Younger zebras are expected to cost more than older zebras. This is because they will be with their new owners for longer periods.
- Gender. Exotic pet dealers often put a higher price tag on male zebras, so expect to pay more if you’re looking into buying a zebra stallion.
- Importation Costs. Zebras are originally from Africa, so expect to pay more if your exotic pet is imported directly from Africa. But in the case of local breeders already in the country, expect to pay less since there will no longer be any importation costs.
- Breed. Purebred zebras, like the Plains zebra and the Grevy’s zebra, are more expensive than zebras that have been cross-bred with horses and donkeys.
Is It Possible to Adopt a Zebra?
It is possible to adopt a zebra in lieu of buying an actual zebra. Zoos and wildlife conservatories often offer a program called Zebra Adoption. Through this program, you will be paying for a symbolic adoption of your pet zebra.
Through this symbolic adoption, you are allowed to donate to the zoo or conservatory’s fund, which will then be used to care for the zebra. After you buy an adoption kit, you will be given information about the zebra you have adopted, as well as a certificate of adoption.
Depending on the adoption program you joined, you might also get updates about how your adopted zebra is doing. This makes symbolic adoption a great way to take care of zebras without spending too much time and money.
Some of the establishments where you can symbolically adopt zebras are the following:
- The World Wildlife Fund. The WWF has an Adopt-a-Zebra program where you can choose between several Zebra Adoption Kits that will best suit your budget.
- San Francisco Zoo & Gardens. The SF Zoo also offers a symbolic adoption program, proceeds of which will be used in support of taking care of Grant’s Zebras currently housed at the said zoo.
- Marwell Zoo. The Marwell Zoo in the UK also offers several adoption schemes ranging from a child-friendly budget to a premium option. The zoo also offers group adoption schemes for schools and organizations. Proceeds of these adoption schemes will be used for the care of the zoo’s Grevy’s zebras.
What Is the Cost of Raising a Zebra?
Once you have acquired the zebra, you should also be prepared for the costs needed to raise it. On average, expect to spend an initial cost of around $2000 and a monthly expense of around $300.
One of the biggest monthly expenses you’ll spend will be for feeding your zebra. Zebras love grazing, and their diet mostly consists of wild grass and other vegetation.
If you have enough pasture on your farm, feeding won’t be a problem. If you don’t, then you have to provide it with food. Expect to pay around $100 for food per month. Also, remember that zebras are herbivores, so stick to feeding them grass and hay only. Their stomachs are not meant to digest meat.
As earlier established, zebras love to graze. They need wide spaces to be able to roam freely and feel comfortable. With that said, you need large farmland to accommodate your new pet.
To make sure your zebra stays inside your farm, you have to create 8-foot fences to surround the area. You also need to have a ranch built to keep him safe and dry in case of harsh climates. For this, expect to pay around $2000, depending on the size of your stable and the size of your farm.
You should also consider the costs of getting your zebra checked by the veterinarian. Zebras are considered wild animals, so expect them to be quite hardy. But even then, you have to have your zebra checked by a veterinarian to make sure it’s in its best health. With that said, expect to pay around $200 for every vet visit.
Other Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Zebra
As wild animals, zebras should be able to freely roam around in a big space. So before you decide to acquire a zebra, make sure that you have a farm or a ranch where it can graze and run freely. They will not be happy if they are forced to stay in a cramped space, which can lead to violent and unpredictable behaviors.
Grooming and Socialization
For zebras, grooming and socialization go hand-in-hand. This is because zebras socialize by grooming one another. This is how zebras strengthen their bonds in the wild.
With this in mind, a zebra will feel stressed out if left alone in unfamiliar territory. This can cause it to panic, which can also have adverse effects on its health. Thus, you should consider getting at least two zebras to make sure that they won’t feel alone.
Another factor to consider is the health of the zebra. Expect to pay more for a healthy zebra than those that are suffering from certain conditions. But while the latter may be cheaper, you will end up paying more for veterinary costs in the long run. Thus, it’s best to invest in a healthy zebra to avoid the ballooning medical costs that will follow when you buy an unhealthy one.
How Much Does a Zebra Cost in the US?
It is legal to own a pet zebra in some states in the United States. With that said, some zoos and wildlife auctions sell zebras for around $9000 to $11,500. In the case of mixed-bred species, such as the donkey-zebra cross or the horse-zebra cross, you can acquire them from $3000 to around $5000.
If you prefer to adopt a zebra instead, wildlife conservations offer adoption programs from $25 to $125. This includes a symbolic adoption certificate, a species card, and a gift bag.
How Much Does a Zebra Cost in the UK?
In the United Kingdom, it is legal to own an exotic animal like a zebra. However, you may be required to present a Dangerous Wild Animal license, which you can get from your local authorities. With that said, the cost of acquiring a pet zebra is around £3,000 to £7,000 or roughly around $3,500 to $8000.
In the case of adopting a zebra, zoos and conservation programs allow symbolic adoption of zebras for around £35 or around $40.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a Zebra Faster Than a Horse?
Zebras are not faster than horses. A zebra can run at a top speed of around 40 miles per hour, while a horse has a recorded top speed of 55 miles per hour. But in terms of endurance, zebras are known to be long-distance runners since they have to escape from predators like lions and cheetahs.
Why Do We Not Ride Zebras?
We do not ride zebras because their bodies are not ideal for riding. Compared to horses, zebras have a less muscular back, making them appear more flat and uncomfortable to ride on. They also have lower strength compared to horses, so riding them might cause them pain.
Finally, zebras have an unpredictable nature, so they may turn violent and toss the rider off of their backs. Thus, it is not safe to ride a zebra.
Are Zebras Hard to Train?
Zebras are hard to train. While zebras are known to be friendly animals, they are still quite unpredictable. Because of this unpredictable nature, they may eventually attack their trainer. This is one of the reasons why they are not considered domesticated animals.
Is It Expensive to Raise a Zebra?
It is expensive to raise a zebra. Expect to pay around $2000 for the initial costs for housing, as well as monthly expenses of around $300 for food and medical bills.
Remember that aside from the pricey acquisition costs, you have to have enough space to allow your zebra to roam and graze freely. If your farm isn’t big enough, then you should also spend money on food. You should also take your zebra to the vet for regular check-ups, although they are quite hard due to living in the wild. That’s why raising a zebra can be quite expensive.
While it is possible to own a pet zebra, it may not be the best option. Aside from its expensive acquisition costs, raising a zebra also takes a lot of money and effort. Bear in mind that they are not considered domesticated animals – and the ones who have adapted to the domesticated lifestyle are quite rare. For zebra lovers, the best option is to symbolically adopt them from zoos or wildlife conservation groups.