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Zora

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This article is about the recurring race. For the character from A Link to the Past, see Zora. For the recurring enemies in the Legend of Zelda series, see River Zora.


"The Zoras come from Zora's Domain in northeast Hyrule. An aquatic race, they are longtime allies of Hyrule's Royal Family. I heard that only the Royal Family of Hyrule can enter Zora's Domain..."
Kaepora Gaebora

The Zora (ゾーラ Zōra?), sometimes referred to as "Sea Zora" to differentiate them from their hostile River Zora counterparts, are a recurring race in the Legend of Zelda series. Zoras are aquatic, blue-skinned humanoid creatures that exist in Hyrule, Labrynna and Termina. They are incredibly skilled natural swimmers. The appearance of Zoras can vary greatly; some are large and round, like King Zora XVI, while others are slender and small, such as Prince Ralis.

Zoras are divided into two known major subspecies: the River Zoras, and the Sea Zoras. River Zoras are known as the hostile enemy race that pop out of the water and fire energy balls at Link; whereas the peaceful Zoras are the Sea Zoras. The two differ physically. Despite their names, both types of Zora are known to inhabit both the ocean/sea and bodies of fresh water. In the Adult Link Timeline, the Zora evolved into Rito.

Interestingly, a symbol identical to the Mark of Nayru is sometimes associated with the Zora race.

Biology

While still generally humanoid, the Zoras resemble various marine creatures in their body structure. Most of them wear no clothes, but certain members of their species do wear clothing, or, as shown by the Zora guards in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, a helmet that completely encases their head. They are generally covered in silver scales, which give them a pale blue sheen from a distance, and have dark blue spots on their extremities. Where humans sometimes have long hair, average Zoras have rear-hanging caudal extensions of their heads shaped like the tails of dolphins, perhaps as a cephalic form of dorsal fin. These tails undulate periodically, which gives a Zora's head the unique semblance of a fish. In Twilight Princess, the dorsal-like fins are much smaller. Zoras have two large ulnar fins located distally on their forearms, and some have smaller fins at their ankles. They are sometimes depicted as having webbed feet and hands. They lack ears in the traditional sense, but do have pronounced noses. In previous games in the series, Zoras had no visible gills, yet could breathe underwater, but in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Zoras had gills on their ribs, analogous to the placement of lungs on a human. Also in Twilight Princess, all the Zoras shown have green eyes. As with many races, Zoras who are important to the storyline are physically distinct from the general members of their species.

It seems that male Zoras in a dominant position in their society tend to be much larger and rounder, as demonstrated by King Zora XVI from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Toto from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and the King Zora from The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages. The kings are the obvious leaders of their race, and Toto is a well respected manager. Prince Ralis, the young Zora royal in Twilight Princess, is an aberration from this tendency, although this may be because he is still a child.

The gender of common Zoras is not well defined in the video games, as their physical appearance is not wholly conclusive on the matter. Princess Ruto and Lulu are known females, and have distinctly rounder, or feminine body features. The two also have visible ears and wide heads, similar to those of Hammerhead Sharks, with extra eyes on the sides. Like many people in Hyrule and Termina however, these two characters are nearly identical in appearance, meaning their consistent physical features are a result of their equivalency to one another, and may not be an indicator that all other female Zora would share such an appearance.

Queen Rutela is also female. Her appearance is different from that of Ruto and Lulu, as she lacks their wide head and extra eyes. Her head and face are much more humanoid (her overall appearance seems to be based off that of mermaids), and she has what appear to be coral-like growths which give her the impression of having hair. She seems to have a distinct red coloration/aura, although she appears as a ghost and thus her coloration in life is not truly known. In Twilight Princess, a Zora referred to as "she" helps with the river boat-rental on Zora's River. This female Zora appears to have a slightly pinkish tint to her, perhaps to help clarify her gender. It is also notable that many of the Zoras encountered in Twilight Princess can be seen within a body of water, and their bodies emanate colorful glow, possibly a form of bioluminescence, that the Zoras on land do not show; this may also be the case with the female Zora that helps run the Zora's River boat rental. Laruto, the former Earth Sage in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, who is also female, isn't as physically distinct as Ruto, Lulu, or Rutela. Many of generic Zoras in Twilight Princess had female voice acting, though it was indistinct.

Certain other features of the Zora anatomy are revealed when the player can inhabit the body of the Zora Mikau in Majora's Mask. When Link assumes his streamlined Zora form he can swim with great ease and agility, using his forearm fins to perform barrel rolls or to jump out of the water. Moreover, these fins are specialized for Link's fighting needs. They can grow larger to serve as sharp-edged weapons similar to swords, and even be projected as twin boomerangs; they retract again when not in use. Link's right fin also grows to become his shield when defending. Additionally, Zoras who possess magical power have the ability to create electric fields around their bodies as a defense mechanism when swimming, much like electric eels. This ability has only been seen and used in Majora's Mask. All Zoras are powerful swimmers, and one in Twilight Princess is seen swimming up a waterfall.

Hatched Zora Eggs

Newborn Zora hatched from eggs

It is also revealed in Majora's Mask that Zoras lay eggs to reproduce. Zora eggs need to be kept in cold, clean water in order to develop healthily, and every egg from the same clutch must be kept together in order for them to hatch. Newborn Zoras are tadpole-like with a circular body and a long, skinny tail ending in a fluke.

Additional information about the Zora is revealed through the condition of Prince Ralis in Twilight Princess. While en route to speak with Princess Zelda at Hyrule Castle, the young Ralis was waylaid by warriors of Zant. As a result, Ralis was kept away from the water for too long and fell ill. It would thus seem that there is a limit to the amount of time a Zora can safely spend away from the water without risking serious harm. The Zoras outside Lake Hylia when it is drained also seem worried about the lake eventually drying up, another hint at the Zoras' waterbound condition.

Government

Zora government is monarchical, as illustrated by King Zora XVI, the sole ruler of the Zoras in Ocarina of Time; another King Zora in Oracle of Ages; and Queen Rutela, the deceased ruler of the Zoras in Twilight Princess. Queen Rutela mentions that her husband, King Zora, died some time ago. The Zora Royal Family is responsible for maintaining order among their people, overseeing care of their patron deity, Lord Jabu-Jabu, seen in Ocarina of Time and Oracle of Ages, and assuring that the waters upon which he and all creatures rely are clean and pure. No Zora government is shown in Majora's Mask, leaving it a mystery how, if at all, the Zora in Termina are governed.

Appearances

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Zora (Ocarina of Time)

Zoras take a drastic turn from the ones in the earlier games, in which they were called 'River Zora' or 'Zora's Spawn', depending upon the game. In those games, they were more monstrous, and breathed magic fire, while in the 3D games, they are blue and scaled, with a more gentle look, and a decidedly more amiable disposition. Zoras primarily reside in the Zora's Domain, while some may appear in Lake Hylia. They can exist both in and out of water, but they are best adapted to life in the water. There are two Zora scales obtainable in Ocarina of Time; the Silver Scale, from the Zoras in Zora's Domain as a reward for winning the diving minigame, and the Golden Scale, a reward for catching a nine pound fish at the Fishing Pond.

Seven years in the future in this game, the Zoras, with the recent exception of Princess Ruto, are trapped within a sheet of ice in the Ice Cavern, although King Zora XVI and the local shopkeeper can be saved with Blue Fire. They are an extremely proud race, and allow no outsiders to enter their domain unless they have some connection with Hyrule's Royal Family.

The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

The Zoras remain, for the most part, exactly the same as the Zoras in Ocarina of Time, except they reside in Termina. The only unique Zoras are the members of The Indigo-Go's and their manager. Most Zoras are found in the Zora Hall, located in the Great Bay. Link is also able to transform into a Zora via the Zora Mask. Interestingly, the Terminan Zoras appear to have no monarchy and apparently, no government at all, although it's possible that they have one located somewhere else in Great Bay as the only Zora building shown is Zora Hall.

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons

Zora (Oracle of Ages and Seasons)
River Zora (Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons)

In both The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages and Oracle of Seasons, River Zoras appear as enemies, acting exactly as past Zoras. However, there are also Zoras that are similar to the ones in Ocarina of Time in Oracle of Ages. In that game, the more gentle Zoras make a distinction between them and the monstrous Zoras, claiming that they are "river Zoras" as opposed to noble "sea Zoras".

In Oracle of Ages, Zoras live in an underwater city, which Link can access after he has acquired the Mermaid Suit. In Present time, King Zora has perished, and Lord Jabu-Jabu is a large fish, but without King Zora's consent, Link cannot enter Jabu-Jabu's Belly. In the Past, the king is gravely ill, and requires a Potion in order to survive. Link can get one from Syrup, Maple or a Gasha Nut, and once the king is given it, he gets better. Link asks King Zora to allow him entrance into Jabu-Jabu to get an Essence of Time, but Jabu-Jabu is too small. However Link can go into the future, and gain access to the mature Jabu-Jabu. Zoras only appear in Oracle of Seasons through a linked game, and will give Link an item. There is also an old Zora who lives far away from the Zora City. He will give Link the Broken Sword in exchange for a Sea Ukulele. Despite being from a very aquatic and fish-like race, he has a beard and moustache.

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Zoras are supposedly extinct in The Wind Waker. However, according to Zelda director Eiji Aonuma, the Rito are evolutionary descendants of Zoras. This can be seen in the game by the fact that Medli is the descendant of an ancient Sage, Laruto, who is a Zora. Ritos are bird people, who gain their wings through acquiring a scale from Valoo. Another detail to support this is the Zora emblem on Medli's dress. The only actual Zora in the game is Laruto, who appears only as a ghost.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess

Zora (Twilight Princess)
Zora Guard (Twilight Princess)

The Zoras once again reside in Zora's Domain. The Domain was raided by Shadow Beasts under Zant, and Queen Rutela was killed to show their power. The Domain then became frozen, blocking water from flowing down the river. Once Link and Midna arrive, they must warp a flaming boulder from Death Mountain into the center of the Domain in order to get the water to flow again and unfreeze the area. Also, the race has warriors that carry spears and wear fish-shaped helmets.

The prince of the Zoras, Prince Ralis, fled to Hyrule Castle Town in order to escape capture by the Beasts, and as a result of staying away from water too long, became ill. Ilia and Telma attempt to nurse him to health, but, unsuccessful, bring him to Renado in Kakariko Village with the help of Link. The spirit of Queen Rutela in response grants Link the Zora Armor so he can swim and breathe underwater.

Later on, Link can find Zoras near Death Mountain, mostly in the hot springs. Interestingly, most of the Zora's encountered in Twilight Princess have feminine sounding vocal effects.

The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass

As in The Wind Waker, there are no Zoras, or Rito for that matter. However, there are Zora scales and crowns in the game that Link can buy and sell. The crowns are known as Ruto Crowns and Zora Scale, two of many Treasures that Link can sell to the Treasure Teller for a varying price of Rupees. Both are said to have been worn by a princess of the Zora. This is strange, as all crowns that Link find are described in the same way.

The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks

The Ruto Crown reappears, but the Zora Scale does not.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Zoras appear in much the same fashion as in A Link to the Past, as River Zoras that serve as both enemies and characters. They are ruled by their queen, Oren, who has had her Smooth Gem stolen by the Shady Guy. Once Link returns it, she rewards him with the Zora's Flippers, allowing him to swim in deep water. However, she warns Link that some Zoras may remain hostile toward him, due to their territorial nature. Later in the game, Oren is turned into a painting by Yuga as a part of his plot to revive Ganon. Link later rescues her and awakens her as a sage in Lorule's Swamp Palace.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Zora (Breath of the Wild)

Mipha, a Zora in Breath of the Wild

Spoiler warning: Plot or ending details follow.

Zora in Breath of the Wild are very similar to the Zora from Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. They have their own kingdom, the Zora's Domain, which is ruled by the King Dorephan. Their royal family is comprised of the King, his son Prince Sidon, and a daughter, the Zora Champion Mipha. As she was killed during the Great Calamity, most of the Zora began to resent Hylians, blaming them for Mipha's death. Eventually, when the Divine Beast Vah Ruta began producing an uncontrollable rainstorm, Prince Sidon set out to recruit a Hylian to help him take the Divine Beast down. When Link meets him, he then goes to speak with the king. The king's assistant, Muzu, is initially rude and hateful toward Link. However, once he is told that Mipha had been in love with Link, he softens toward him slightly. After defeating Vah Ruta, Link is viewed as a hero to all of the Zora.

Interestingly it seems that they have naturally long lifespans, as many of both the younger and older looking Zora remember Link from one hundred years ago, one Zora child refers to Link as being a "kid" compared to them, and one stone tablet also notes that King Dorephan had ruled for "only" one century when the tablet was created. The history of Ruto from Ocarina of Time can be found on a tablet in the Zora's Domain. Mipha is a nod to the ancient "romance" between Link and Ruto in Ocarina of Time.

Spoiler warning: Spoilers end here.

Theories

Theory warning: This section contains theoretical information based on the research of one or several other users. It has not been officially verified by Nintendo and its factual accuracy is disputed.

Evolution

Medli

A Zora symbol on Medli's clothing

According to Zelda director Eiji Aonuma, the Rito are the evolved form of the Zora. This half-bird, half-human race makes multiple references to the Zora, which further confirms this evolution. The most convincing is the fact that Medli shares the bloodline of the Zora Earth Sage Laruto, just like how Makar is a Korok, a descendant of the Kokiri like Fado. Also, the symbol of the Zora's Sapphire, which is used as the Zora's royal family symbol, can be seen in multiple places on the Ritos' home of Dragon Roost Isle. It is also on the clothes worn by some Ritos. Also, in their general physiology, Zoras and Ritos have many similarities. For example, the Rito have wings that hang down at their elbows, and the Zoras have fins at the same place.

It is unknown why this change would have occurred, since the Zoras in Oracle of Ages have been shown to be able to live in the sea off the coast of the island of Labrynna. However, unlike the Great Sea, the Zoras seemed to be living in a controlled environment without interruption from other sea dwellers. As seen in Majora's Mask, the Zora have trouble living in water that is murky or not at optimal temperature, thus suggesting that the change in water conditions might have forced them to evolve. Also, as the Great Sea is quoted as being mainly devoid of fish to catch, it is possible that the Zoras' main food source dried up, forcing them to become land creatures. As the Great Sea is filled with numerous monsters and other dangerous marine life forms, the Zora might have been forced to evolve in order to avoid being eaten or, at least, constantly attacked. This would explain why they now had to fly over the water, rather than swim through it. A small rumor states that the goddesses did not want anyone to find Hyrule hidden beneath the Great Sea, and as Zoras would have found the land quite quickly, the goddesses evolved the Zora on their own. However, because of the appearance of Fishmen, who are also sentient beings that live in water, this appears to be untrue.

Other appearances

Subseries warning: This article or section contains information on a subseries within the Legend of Zelda series and should be considered part of its own separate canon.

Hyrule Warriors/Legends

Princess Ruto appears as a playable character. Additionally she has a Dark shadowy Doppelgänger called Dark Ruto that appears as an enemy in Adventure Mode. Fountains in the shape of King Zora XVI appear in the Temple of Souls stage. Princess Ruto also has recolors of her Standard Outfit based on Lulu, Queen Rutela, and Laruto.

Subseries warning: Subseries information ends here.

Non-canonical appearances

Non-canon warning: This article or section contains non-canonical information that is not considered to be an official part of the Legend of Zelda series and should not be considered part of the overall storyline.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

A Zora from Ocarina of Time is featured as a sticker. The sticker gives a +31 bonus to launch power and can be applied to any character.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U

"A race of merfolk who protect Zora's Fountain, they are led by King Zora. They worship a giant fish, Jabu-Jabu, and it is the job of the strong-willed Princess Ruto to tend to him. Unlike some rather hostile Zora in Link's past, these Zora are quite friendly and helpful."
— Trophy Description

Zora from Ocarina of Time 3D appears as a trophy in the 3DS version of the game.

Non-canon warning: Non-canonical information ends here.

Etymology

The name "Zora" may originate from the fish called the remora. It could also have been inspired by Zora Neale Hurston, an early 20th-century American writer, given the inspiration for "Zelda" is Zelda Fitzgerald.

Zora or Zorya is a Slavic name meaning Beautiful Aurora, Dawn, or Morning Star.

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