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Why are DNA scientists trying to revive an extinct species of zebra?

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Of the Plains species of zebra, there are six subspecies, including Quagga, which is now extinct. As a matter of information, the other five are: Burchell's zebra, Grant's zebra, Selous' zebra, Chapman's zebra, and Crawshay's zebra.

The extinct quagga lived wild throughout South Africa, the last one having died in 1883 at an Amsterdam zoo. It was not known at the time that he was the last surviving quagga. The others had been killed off by hunters for meat and hides.

The quagga is so named because of his bray which sounded as "kwa-ha." He had a uniquely reddish coat and stripes only on the head, neck, and shoulders which faded into a solid coat toward the rear.

The Quagga Project is a plan to breed zebras that are phenotypically similar to the quagga in a "breeding back" process. The process requires that scientists use quagga pelts to retrieve DNA, which will serve in reviving the subspecies in South Africa. They have assuredly gotten hold of the best-quality pelts available to use as the foundation; but even so, the process can never produce an exact quagga.

The resulting bred-back quagga zebra will be very similar to the extinct quagga; but since the actual gene pool of that wild type is no longer available, it is not possible for man to have a re-creation of an authentic zebra just like the extinct breed. The best that science can strive toward is a superficial look-alike.

Why revive a zebra that looks similar to an extinct zebra?

The instincts of the bred-back zebra should be intact, and he should function as the original species did when in its natural habitat. From an ecological standpoint, this is a positive move as the copy-cat breed will fill a gap to bring back the natural dynamic within the wilds of South Africa.



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