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zebu (zēˈbyō) [key], domestic animal of the cattle family, Bos indicus, found in parts of E Asia, India, and Africa. The zebu characteristically has a large fatty hump (sometimes two humps) over the withers. It is usually fawn, gray, black, or bay. An inferior source of milk and meat, it has great endurance and comparatively long legs and has been used in India as a riding and draft animal. Zebus were first introduced into the United States, where they are called Brahman cattle, in the 19th cent. They are used in Central and South America and are well established in the Gulf states, where they are interbred with domestic cattle to produce an animal that has greater resistance to heat and to ticks than the ordinary domestic cattle and better flesh than the zebu. Zebus are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Bovidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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