Horse Tigers
Restoring the Quagga

In 1883, biologists believed the world had lost one of its zebra species. The last known Quagga, an unusual brownish, partly striped zebra, died in the Amsterdam Zoo. Hunters had already exterminated its wild cousins, sought for their striking hides and because ranchers believed they competed with livestock for grasses.

Now, more than 100 years later, researchers in South Africa are on the verge of bringing the Quagga — or at least a modern version of it — back to life.

The restoration effort is the brainchild of Reinhold Rau, a taxidermist and wildlife enthusiast committed to seeing the Quagga back on its native range. His restoration hopes got a boost in the 1990s, when genetic scientists used tissue samples from an old Quagga hide to show that the animal was simply one variety of Plains zebra, not a separate species. The study suggested that Rau and his supporters could use modern Plains zebras, like those featured in NATURE’s Horse Tigers, in a careful breeding program to recreate the Quagga.

After years of work, the selection effort appears to be paying off. Over the last few years, The Quagga Project has produced scores of zebras with unusual, Quagga-like markings, some of which have been released into parks and preserves.

The project does have its critics, who say there is no guarantee that the modern Quaggas replicate the habits or behaviors of the extinct variety. But Quagga Project backers are upbeat. There is no evidence, they note, that Quaggas behaved substantially differently from other Plains zebras. And since the grasses that Quaggas ate are still in existence, project officials say there is “no reason to believe that animals produced in the selective breeding program would not survive successfully in the region formerly occupied by the Quagga.”

  • ayla

    thats 2 bad that thr extinct

  • katie

    Do you think that the quaggas should be recreated or not and why?

  • ?

    Yes, because If we restore the Quagga it would be a wonderful thing because we cannot bring back other species that are dying out. If we can restore a species we should. Also If the Quagga was restored, then if the zebras ever became extinct then it would be a easier to restore them as the Quagga and zebra are closely related.

  • luke

    yeah but is it a good idea to restore something that is already gone by basically cloning the DNA?

  • jane

    i think its cool that they are bringing back an extinct animal :P

  • Julia

    Most certainly. More Biodiversity is always a great benefit to the ecosystem that the Quagga lives in. Besides, the Quagga is my favorite species of extinct animal and getting the chance to encounter a real one, even if it is genetically modified would be a great honor. Who wouldn’t want to see a door to the past open up in the form of a beautifully crafted animal?

  • unknown

    i think the quagga shouldn’t be recreated because people are moaning “tigers are becoming close to extinction” and their asking people to donate money to help save to poor animals but they have enough money to try and bring quaggas back on the earth im not saying its a bad thing but why don’t they save some thing is on the earth rather than doing something unlikely and trying to bring something that has been wiped out from the world

  • John Brooker

    I strongly believe that there was no such species as a Quagga and the reason that it became “Extinct” was because it was one of a kind a Hybrid, a cross between a domestic horse and a Cape Mountain Zebra. Horse Tiger is a fairly good description of the animal. How come the only known specimen died in the Amsterdam Zoo in 1883 – What happened to the hundreds of skins from the Quagga that were supposedly been slaughtered in the eighteen hundreds to make way for livestock – Not One Single Specimen – Except for that only known animal which died in the Amsterdam Zoo?
    If Mr. Rau and his team would like to recreate a look-a-like Quagga may I suggest that he tries crossing a Cape Mountain Zebra and a Horse – Unfortunately the offspring will also be a hybrid and won’t breed?

  • susan saver

    regards john brookers coment, really? thank god you are here to share your beliefs. Science is not a belief system, not a religeon. pehaps a little research before making a statement. do you really think that all the genetisists, zoologists,ect. are not capable of …. forget it, there arent any words.

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