Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana. The harem stallion nips at his mares. They trot off into the brush and settle back into grazing grass. Portly and compact as donkeys, their black and white stripes extend right up into their brush-cut manes, no two patterns alike. The sun glints on the swish of a mare's tail.
Is a zebra a white horse with black stripes or a black horse with white stripes?
In his book, Origin of Species, Darwin compiled examples of the occasional striping on all horses, arguing it as a trait from a distant common ancestor brought to full fruition in the zebra. He noted that sometimes zebras are born with white blotches or incomplete stripes, natural proof that a zebra is a black horse with white stripes. The white is lack of pigmentation on their black bodies.
Zebras are often described as animals with their own bar codes. So here’s the question that pops into my mind as I watch the zebras: do zebra foals imprint on the black stripes of their mothers or on the white stripes? The accepted belief puts money on the black pattern. But isn’t that the human response? Not one of us knows what a zebra knows.