Prior to 1845 he worked as a carpenter, afterwards serving as a taxidermist at the Naturalien-Cabinet in Vienna. In 1857 he became an assistant at the aforementioned institution, later receiving a promotion as a "curator-adjunct".
He took part in the expedition Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde (1861–1876) ("Journey of the Austrian frigate Novara around the Earth, 1861 – 1876"). In addition to the Novara expedition, Zelebor took zoological journeys to the Balkans, Crete and Egypt during his career.
- Zelebor, Johnann, August von Pelzeln, Franz Steindachner, and Rudolf Kner, Reise der österreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde (1861–1876 ("Journey of the Austrian frigate Novara around the Earth") Zoolologischer Thiel. Ester Band, (Wirbelthiere). 1. Säugethiere 2. Vögel 3. Reptilien 4. Amphibien 5. Fische, Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, Wien, 1869. [Volume 1]
- Wikisource.de Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich
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