Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an animal rescue and rehabilitation group based in Kenya, recently announced the newest member of their family: a highly unusual hybrid between a zebra and donkey. Or, simply put, a zonkey!
The story behind this zonkey begins with his mother, a stray zebra that wandered out of the Tsavo East National Park and into a community bordering the park. She settled into a local woman’s cattle herd but eventually had to be relocated back to a protected area.
Sheldrick Wildlife then moved her to Chyulu National Park, which was closer to the community life she had become accustomed to.
The Kenze Anti-Poaching Team monitored her integration and found her adjusting fairly well.
Their fence maintenance team first saw the zebra with a foal by her side at the beginning of the year. Several weeks later, they got a better look at the foal and realized this was not just an ordinary baby zebra.
“While zebra foals are born with white and brown stripes that eventually turn black, this little one’s body was suspiciously light on stripes and overwhelmingly tawny in color,” Sheldrick Wildlife says. “At first, we thought that it had just been wallowing in the mud bath, but then the truth dawned on us: Our wayward zebra had given birth to a zonkey!”
They explain that zebras have a gestation period of 12 months, meaning the zebra must have mated with a donkey while living within the community last year.
“We’re happy to report that mum and baby are thriving,” they assure. “Their new home is in an area that isn’t plagued by heavy predation and thanks to the lush conditions, water, and grass plentiful it is a good place to call home.
While the zonkey will be able to lead an otherwise normal life, as a mule he will be unable to successfully breed once reaching maturity.
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