- 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, resembling humanoid versions of real world salt-water and fresh-water fish. 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.
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 or sharks, 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. Another thing to note is that River Zora tend to resemble lake fish, while friendly Sea Zora resemble sharks or ocean mammals.
It seems that male Zoras in a dominant position in their society tend to be much larger, as demonstrated by King Zora XVI from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Toto from The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, King Zora from The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages, and Prince Sidon from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. 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 pink 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.
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. It is possible the body of the Zora grows from the head and the fluke is what becomes the fin on the head of most Zoras. In Ocarina of Time and Breath of the Wild, female Zora show an interest in Link, however it is unknown if Zoras can actually produce children with Hylian and Human people. It could be that Zora are mostly human but are semi-aquatic.
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.
As evidenced in Breath of the Wild, Zora have a tremendously long lifespan compared to other species inhabiting Hyrule, capable of living for multiple centuries and possibly a millennium. However, the body growth rate is slow compared to the other species, most notably Humans. Where it takes less than twenty years for a human to become an adult would be about a century for a Zora (This is seen through characters found throughout Zora's Domain, such as Prince Sidon, who had lived as a toddler at thirty years of age before the Calamity and seen as an adult one hundred years after). It is unknown if their relatives, the Rito share the same aging trait.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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 Ruto Crown reappears, but the Zora Scale does not.
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.
Zora in Breath of the Wild are very similar to the Zora from Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess, though they have a slightly more shark-like appearance. They have their own kingdom, the Zora's Domain, which is currently ruled by King Dorephan whom has ruled Zora's Domain for at least a century. Zora's Domain is said to have been founded by the Zora at least ten thousand years ago long before King Dorephan's reign according to the Zora Stone Monument. Before the Great Calamity, their royal family was comprised of the King, his daughter the Zora Champion Princess Mipha, and his youngest child, Prince Sidon.
In Breath of the Wild, Zora have naturally long lifespans, as many of both the younger and older looking Zora remember Link from one hundred years prior. It is implied by Finley that some of the Zora children in Zora's Domain may not be as young as they appear as Finley states she is at that awkward Zora age where despite being a young woman she has yet to have her growth spurt. Most of the older Zora who where adults during the Great Calamity are shown to have aged to the point they are elderly, while 100 year old Zora are shown to still be in their prime. It is implied that the Zora in Breath of the Wild are capable of living in both fresh and salt water as Prince Sidon is known to have fought an Octorok in Hateno Bay which is located in the Necluda Sea, however they prefer fresh water.
Like the Knights of Hyrule, the Zora have their own knights who defend Zora's Domain. Zora tend to favor spears and tridents over swords and shields and craft them out of silver. Zora weaponry is generally very ornate and artistic.
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.
In Breath of the Wild, Rito and Zora coexist as separate races and it is unclear if the Rito evolved from the Zora as the timeline of Breath of the Wild is unconfirmed save for the fact it takes place after Ocarina of Time and that Zora's Domain was founded in the Lanayru Great Spring region ten thousand years prior around the same time frame that Calamity Ganon was defeated using Sheikah technology and it is implied this occurred long after Ocarina of Time implying untold millennia have passed during which evolution may have occurred. Both the Rito and Zora existed ten thousand years prior and each was entrusted with a Divine Beast Vah Medoh and Vah Ruta respectively and piloted by unnamed Champions from the respective races they were entrusted to and did so successfully. If evolution did occur in this indeterminate timeline then it apparently occurred so long ago that the Rito and Zora as well as other races have no knowledge of it. It is implied the Korok evolved from the Kokiri as the Kokiri are nonexistent and the only reference to them Lake Saria, Mido Swamp, and the Hero's Clothes armor set based on the Kokiri Tunic and Kokiri Boots worn by the Hero of Time which are depicted as a clothing set separate from that worn by the Hero of Twilight. Though some would see this as evidence it takes place in the Adult Timeline it is possible the Rito and Korok evolved from the Zora and Kokiri in another timeline as Breath of the Wild makes references to games spanning different timelines and eras making determining its timeline problematic beyond the conformation it takes place after Ocarina of Time. There is potential evidence of evolution as Rito are more bird-like having beaks, talons, and have evolved prehensile wings instead of transforming their arms while the Zora have all become shark-like in appearance though certain individuals such as Muzu and King Dorephan resemble different shark species than the others and Dorephan's children Mipha and Sidon do not resemble him though this is common among the Zora Royal Family however Mipha and Sidon resemble one another and have the same general appearance as most other non-royal Zora with minor variation. This implies the Rito race are an offshot of the Zora race that evolved into their own race with their own culture to the point both live on opposites sides of Hyrule and apparently interact with or live around one another very rarely such as Champions Mipha and Revali being comrades as well as Rito and Zora residents living in Tarrey Town. Little is known about Rito history before the Calamity while Zora history is well documented. Rito are also more likely be seen outside of Rito Village given their ability to fly while very few Zora leave Zora's Domain or the province of Lanayru. Both races however have their own unique weapons with bows and spears being used by both races though Rito apparently specialize in archery and bowmaking while Zora apparently specialize in spearmanship and spearmaking though both have developed swords and shields though their use by the respective races that created them is uncommon. Zora also have longer lifespans than Rito who apparently age at a rate similar to Hylians and Gerudo. It is implied the Rito have evolved to survive in conditions potentially lethal to Zora such as Gerudo Desert though some Rito do have trouble with the heat due to their insulating feathers being adapted to cold climates in Hebra Mountains and high altitudes though some Rito may be better prepared for desert travel. These differences point to them being either entirely separate species or they are distantly related races that share a common ancestry as the Zora may have gone through some minor evolutionary changes or adaptations such as Hyrulean Zora being able to live in both fresh and salt water (similar to real world Bull Sharks which fits with the Zora's shark-like appearance) presumably around the same time the Rito. Over time the two races presumably drifted apart as the Rito adapted to living in the Hebra province building Rito Village on an island in Lake Totori while the Zora settled in Lanayru Great Spring region and founded Zora's Domain there which is essentially a giant fish sculpture crafted by Zora stonemasons. However both races' major settlements are built over large bodies of water implying the Rito may have evolved from Zora living in Lake Totori presumably as a result of Zora adapting to their environment though it is unclear given no exact time frame of its founding is given though it presumably existed or was founded at least ten thousand years before Breath of the Wild though it is unknown if it existed before then.
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.
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.
- "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.
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.