The Quagga, Equus quagga, is an extinct subspecies of the plains zebra. It was once found in great numbers in South Africa’s Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was classified as an original individual species in 1788. But with more study, all zebras were described as individual because of the great variation in coat patterns. Taxonomists had no way to tell which were true species, subspecies, or natural variants.
The Quagga was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid marks on the front part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and the dark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the hindquarters were a plain brown. The quagga was the first extinct creature to have its DNA studied. Recent genetic research at the Smithsonian Institution has demonstrated that the quagga was in fact not a separate species at all, but diverged from the extremely variable plains zebra between 120,000 and 290,000 years ago.
The Quagga was hunted to extinction for its meat, hides, and to preserve feed for domestic stock. The last wild quagga was probably shot in the late 1870s, and the last specimen in captivity died on August 12, 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.