Does Thailand really have more Zebras than Africa?

This morning I retweeted something from @thomasFATCAT. In Thai he jokingly said “เชื่อหรือไม่ ไทย มีม้าลาย มากว่า แอฟริกา” which basically means, “Believe it or not, Thailand has more zebras than Africa”. Of course, that is not true in any sense. But, what he was referring to are the roadside shrines that are seemingly over-run with zebras. You sometimes see giant cockerels too.

When it comes to offerings at shrines in Thailand, people don’t always know why they are doing a certain thing. It is usually because they have seen someone else do it and decide to follow the fashion. The giant three-headed elephant in Samut Prakan wasn’t popular until the rumour got out that someone had won big in the lottery after offering suger cane and bananas at the shrine. Now everyone does that.

In the case of the giant cockerels, I know that the highly respected King Taksin was associated with cock fighting. And so, when people pray to him for good luck, they will offer a cockerel. In the case of the zebras, I am not so sure as they are not native to Thailand. But @justindunne suggested this on Twitter which does make sense: “From my understanding, zebras indicate a safe travel/path as would be a similar interpretation for zebra xing”.

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