c. 1600, from Italian zebra, perhaps via Portuguese, earlier applied to a now-extinct wild ass, of uncertain origin, said to be Congolese [OED], or Amharic [Klein], but perhaps ultimately from Latin equiferus "wild horse," from equus "horse" (see equine) + ferus (see fierce). Related: Zebrine; zebroid.
zebra-like South African animal, partly striped, 1785, from Afrikaans (1710), from the name for the beast in a native language, perhaps Khoisan (Hottentot) quacha, which often is said somehow to be of imitative origin. According to OED, in modern Xhosa, the form is iqwara, with a clicking -q-. What was likely the last one died in an Amsterdam zoo in 1883.