MYTH: Mr. Ed was a horse/Mr. Ed was a zebra

Here’s the story.
You may have a hard time believing this one but the lovable Mr. Ed, the talking horse, was not a horse at all. The original horse that was cast was so bad at performing on cue, the series came very close to not even happening due to the majority of the already tight budget for the show being spent trying to get the problem horse actor to act.

Enter “Amelie” the zebra to save the day. Yes that’s correct, Mr. Ed was in fact a female zebra. A park in Thousand Oak, CA called Jungleland happened to have a trained Grevy’s zebra and with a hefty donation to the park by the producers, they were allowed to use Amelie for their show. But how could they pull off making a zebra look like a horse without changing the name to Mr. Ed, the talking zebra? Well, they didn’t say anything. And with all the televisions back then being black and white, no one could tell the difference. It is difficult to resolve closely integrated black and white lines on a black and white television. As a funny side note, when Johnny Cash was performing at Folsom prison, many of the inmates who were wearing the traditional black and white prison garb slipped passed guards who were viewing the performance on black & white security monitors. Anyone know if this is why the switch to orange jumpsuits was made?

Later on and whenever Mr. Ed was to make a public appearance or have a photo shoot a palomino horse by the name of Bamboo Harvester was used, and this horse basically took all the fame from poor Amelie. But luckily she was a zebra and simply did not care.

But now the twist. There is also apparently a Mr. Ed Zebra hoax. This myth about the zebra may not be true at all. I have found sources that say both. But apparently, Snopes will try to trick you from time to time. I’ve read the Zebra story in a lot of different places and now I’m seeing another side where it could be completely false, so who knows what to believe anymore?


18 Responses to “MYTH: Mr. Ed was a horse/Mr. Ed was a zebra”

  1. um…grew up around horses, look at the mane..and the ears…no way that horse is not a zebra!….also…the height of the man…

  2. Well I have horses too but the size of Mr. Ed doesn’t really tell anything because I have seen horses of many sizes. My horse now is really small for an average horse, and also every horse I have had has had pretty different ears, of different sizes. Ears are a defining characteristic of most horses and look kind of similar to a zebra. Plus the Zebra they are talking about was a Grevy’s Zebra which is actually closer in size (the largest of the all Zebra types), ear shape, and overall DNA structure to a horse. The only thing is that is has stripes, which are very narrow compared to other Zebras, and probably could obtain the vanishing effect talking about on the black & white television sets. Oh and the mane doesn’t mean anything: One of my horses a while back had a mane that wouldn’t grow past being a mo-hawk.

    But still, I do not buy it. It just seems ridiculous that in all of Hollywood they could not find a trained horse (domesticated for thousands of years), but were able to come across a well trained enough Zebra (still very much a wild animal). Plus if the problem was with their budget I’m pretty sure that a horse would cost way less than a zebra.

  3. horseperson Says:

    I have had horses for 20+ years, Mr. Ed is a HORSE not a ZEBRA, you would have to be an idiot to believe that.

    Pull up some photos of Mr. Ed and a zebra. Compare the eyes, head shape, ears (zebra’s are much bigger), stand up mane vs. long silky one, length of neck, the zebras is much shorter, width of shoulders, the zebra is much narrower. The over all conformation is much different. A zebra is built like a donkey, while, a horse, is a horse of course!

  4. i dont think Mr ed was a zebra at all
    zebras dont have that fringe where as Mr ed did
    if you look closly you can see that he is plalomino
    and u would beable to see he had stripes if u looked closy but Mr ed does not and look at Mr ed’s height ALOT bigger than a zebra
    In the First episode of Mr ed he was played by a chestnut although later on in the series he changed to a palomino
    know one knows why but maybe the chestnut didnt work out so they got the palomino but i really dont think Mr ed was a zebra

  5. Mr. Ed was most definately a horse. As stated in other comments horses and zebras have very different confirmation and there’s no mistaking the two. I also don’t buy the fact that black and white stripes disapear on a black and white tv, since the show up on black and white film. Here’s a link to Snopes that proves that they made it up just to mess with you.

    It’s a fun story though and caught my attention when my father in law brought it up.

  6. Here’s an easier way to know it’s a hoax.

    Have you ever seen a black and white picture or b/w film documentary of a Zebra? Yes right?

    It still looked like a Zebra with all it’s stripes didn’t it? Exactly.

    At the very least something that’s basically just black and white already should show up pretty normally on black and white film/video.

    I mean seriously.
    Although i got a good chuckle about “comparing the horse and the zebras” like that’s the part that mattered. Too funny.
    (No offense meant or anything of course.)

  7. Look at the bottom of the page on this snopes claim. There’s a link under more information about this page. Click on it and you’ll see that snopes did this as an exercise in “false authority”. You’ll see that the Mr. Ed story is just a joke, and he is in fact a horse, of course!

  8. Of course Mr Ed wasn’t a zebra. Black and white have the greatest contrast and stand out the most on a B&W screen . Would you seriously believe men in black suits with white shirts would look a uniform grey on a B&W screen?

  9. James Carleton Says:

    You can’t tame horses. You can’t even ride them. Zoos have a hard time keeping them in captivity. They’re respond very violently when humans try to “train” them.

    No way this is possible.

  10. You should take this one down because it is completely wrong.

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  12. aleksandra william Says:

    People will believe anything. Like it was quoted, there’s a sucker born every minute. Glad to see there are some who aren’t fooled!


  14. I won money in the pub on this , now i think Mr Ed’s a horse

  15. I was just reading the story to this on Snopes. I’ll be the first to admit, that I don’t know much about horses or zebras. But, Snope’s bizarre trick, to try and convince the reader, that Mr. Ed was a Zebra, is ridiculous, as it proves zilch. The colour photo of the zebra, is not the same photo used for the black and white image. The black and white photo, is the same picture used for Mr. Ed.

    Then I looked at both the zebra photo and Mr. Ed’s photo, and saw the differences, between the two different animals. What I also noted was the fact that centre area of Mr. Ed’s nose, is actually paler in colour, than the rest of his body. Therefore, if he really was a zebra, then you’d see the stripes.

    I thought Snopes were supposed to be a facts site? That’s the last time I’ll believe their dribble. I’ll stick to Hoax-Slayer.

  16. Kevin Morgan Says:

    Snopes repeats the story about the zebra, but, as many have said, were “Mr. Ed” really a zebra, his/her features would have been very different. Call me a skeptic, but I think Snopes is putting us on.

  17. Paul J. Hoffman Says: Mr. Ed was a horse.

  18. Famous hoax-debunker published an article claiming that Mr. Ed was a zebra:
    but also published another article admitting that the above was a satirical parody:

    As a TV engineer since the early days of color TV, I spotted the claims in the first article about black-and-white TV sets being unable to resolve stripes as phony (and absurd)

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