Animal

Zebra
Christopher Plumb, Samuel Shaw


Paperback | May 2018 | REAKTION BOOKS | 9781780239354 | 216pp | 190x135mm | Forthcoming | GEN | AUD$24.99, NZD$29.99


Common and exotic, glamorous and ferocious, sociable and sullen: zebras mean many things to many people. The extraordinary beauty of their striped coats makes them one of the world's most recognisable animals. They have been immortalised in paint by artists including George Stubbs and Lucian Freud, and zebra-print designs permeate contemporary society — on beanbags and bikinis, from car seats to pencil cases. Zebras even have a road crossing named after them. But the natural and cultural history of the zebra remains a mystery to most. Few know that there are three species of zebra, or that one of these is currently endangered, or that the quagga, an animal that once roamed southern Africa in large numbers before dying out in the 1880s, is among the zebra's many subspecies.

Zebra is a comprehensive and wide-ranging study of the natural and cultural history of this popular animal. Using a wide range of sources and stories, it shows how the zebra's history engages and intersects with diverse topics, including eighteenth-century humour, imperialism, and camouflage technologies. Including more than a hundred illustrations, many previously unpublished, it offers a new way of thinking about this much-loved but frequently misunderstood animal.