Can You Legally Buy and Own a Zebra as a Pet?

Zebras are majestic animals, mostly found in the Savannas of Africa. They are the symbol of balance and individualism. Known for its beautiful patterned coat, the zebra is an animal loved by many.

They are easily identified by their colors and stripes, horse-like shape, and pointed ears. They may look a lot like a horse, but can they be kept as pets? 

Simply put, they can’t be kept as pets due to their wild nature.

Still there are many people who long to have a pet zebra. This article will discuss why zebras can’t be kept as pets and some other informative facts.

Is It legal to own a zebra?

Believe it or not, owning a pet zebra is not fully illegal. But this doesn’t make it a good idea to buy one. While they look harmless and docile, zebras can become hostile when approached by humans. This is because they are prey animals and are always alert. 

So before you try and buy a pet zebra, know that you can get arrested in some states for doing so. For years people have tried to domesticate this stripey animal and failed. They have a strong kick that can even kill predators.

Another reason why it’s illegal to own a zebra in some states is because these animals are highly unpredictable. You never know when a zebra might get triggered and attack. Unlike horses, you cannot ride zebras either.

This is because they have flat backs that aren’t meant for saddles. Zebras are much lighter than horses and cannot bear human weight. They have the tendency to seriously injure you by kicking and even throwing you off their back if you try to ride them. 

How much does a pet zebra cost?

Zebras can be costly and set you back up to $7000 or even more, depending on the breed. One main reason is that they need to be transported from another country. However, even if you have the money to invest in this wild animal, buying a zebra can get you into serious trouble.

Not only are they illegal to buy in some states, but some species are also endangered. Despite this, unfortunately, many exotic animal lovers own zebras. You can also find these beautiful creatures in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries.

Instead of buying a pet zebra, opt for getting a horse instead. Not only are horses domestic animals, but they are much more gentle than zebras. Another pro fact of owning a horse is that you can ride it due to its muscular body structure.

Zebras are meant to be in the wild and thrive in their natural surroundings. They have a herd mentality, so keeping a single zebra is bad for its mental and physical well-being.

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Top facts about zebras you didn’t know about!

Cons of keeping a zebra as a pet 

Still want to keep a zebra as a pet? Here are some cons that you should keep in mind.

They Are Aggressive

As we discussed earlier, zebras aren’t afraid to bite and kick. The main factors that help one determine whether an animal can be domesticated are:

  • Will they attack you easily?
  • Will they allow a human to be their leader?
  • Will they panic easily?

Zebras cannot be domesticated since they fail in each of these categories. Apart from these factors, it is also hard to capture a zebra if it escapes. This is due to the special zig-zag running pattern they use while running from prey.

Even if you get lucky and find yourself a friendly zebra, chances are that it may still attack you when triggered.

They Get Lonely

The last thing any animal lover wants is to see their favorite animal sad. Not only are zebras expensive, but owning several will surely break your bank. Keeping a single zebra is one way to have a depressed pet.

Zebras usually stay in herds to keep themselves safe from predators. In fact, they even sleep in herds in case a predator attacks. Keeping a zebra in captivity is bad for their mental health.

A zebra may become more aggressive if kept alone. They may even try to bite you if you feed them. Being bitten by a zebra is the last thing you want to experience. 

They Get Cold

Although this wild animal can adapt to cold weather, keeping a zebra in chilly temperatures is not a good idea. They have a shorter coat that tends to thicken during the winter. But African winters are much different compared to some of the chilly states.

There have also been some cases of zebras dying due to hypothermia. The cold weather can also make them more prone to diseases. If you still want to get a zebra, make sure to build an indoor shed to keep them warm and cozy during the colder weather.

You Cannot Ride Them

You may be under the impression that zebras can be ridden, but that isn’t the case at all. Unlike horses, zebras aren’t as muscular nor have backs built for riding. They can’t handle a lot of weight which is why they aren’t used as transportation animals.

If you try to ride a zebra, you may end up hurting the animal. You may also get injured since it will most likely throw you off its back. Despite these facts, you may hear stories of people putting effort into training and even riding a zebra.

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How To Care For Zebras

If you decide to buy a pet zebra, the first thing you need to check is if they’re legal in your state. You can only proceed with the buying process if your state allows you to keep a zebra in a domesticated enclosure.

If you get a green signal there, the next thing you need to be absolutely sure about is to provide the best care for your zebra. Here are some ideas:

Feed Them Well

As you know, zebras are herbivores that graze rather than eat full meals. Their diet mainly consists of grass but can also include leaves and hay. They regurgitate their food and chew on it.

This is called cud, and most herbivore animals do this. If you buy a zebra, make sure you have a big lawn that they can graze from. You can also feed them carrots.

Get Them Vaccinated

Just like horses, zebras are prone to diseases that can be detrimental to their well-being. To avoid this, it’s important to get them vaccinated. One of the vaccinations you should get is against rabies.

If an animal gets rabies, it is harmful not only to them but to everyone around them.

Build A Fence

Having a fenced area is important to keep your pet zebra from escaping. This helps them stay in a certain area and get acquainted with their new home. If you can get a mate for your zebra, that is ideal as well.

Make sure to inspect your zebra enclosure regularly.


A cool fact about zebras is that they require a lot of water to survive. They can drink up to a gallon of water at once. They get this water from ponds and watering holes in their natural habitat.

If you keep a zebra, you must ensure that they stay hydrated. A good way to do this is by building a pond in their enclosure. If they don’t get enough water, they can fall ill easily.

Provide Warmth

During the colder seasons, you should move your zebras to a shed or a warmer area. This helps them stay warm and keeps them from getting sick.


If you’re a zebra lover, you may be tempted to get one as a pet. But zebras aren’t ideal pets at all, no matter how pretty they are. They aren’t human-friendly, cannot be domesticated, and can harm you and your surroundings.

Check out this wildlife documentary on zebras to learn more about these animals!

There are plenty of other options than buying a zebra as a pet. One of these options is going to your local safari to view this animal. You can also go to a zoo and feed them leaves.

We hope this article gave you all the information you need about zebras.

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Susan Dorling

I am a pet expert with years of experience working with a variety of animals. From dogs and cats to birds and exotics, I have a deep understanding of their unique needs and behaviors. I am dedicated to helping pet owners provide the best care for their furry friend.