Meet Baby Zonkeys, the Half-Zebras, Half-Donkeys That Won the Genetic Jackpot
Sometimes mother nature decides to have fun and mix things up a bit — especially when it comes to the animal realm. How else could you explain those interesting animal hybrids? For example, you can find a very cute geep (a goat-sheep), and a jaglion (a jaguar-lion). And just recently, there’s been one more addition — a hybrid of a zebra and a donkey. Although it’s not the very first one of its kind, it’s one of the very few that exist in the world!
We at Bright Side were very excited to hear about this newborn zonkey and we can’t wait to share this story with you. Be sure to scroll down to the end of the article where you’ll find a few more pictures of other zonkeys!
It all began with a stray zebra.
In 2019, a Sheldrick Wildlife Trust vet unit helped move a stray zebra to a protected area. She used to be in the Tsavo East National Park but somehow ended up in a nearby community. She even stayed there for a few weeks, becoming part of a cattle's herd, until the story was covered by local media and the vet team was asked to relocate her.
The team moved her to the Chyulu National Park. And although at that point she'd gotten used to the community life, it was no problem for her to settle down in a new place.
Something didn't seem right about the newborn foal.
When zebras are born, they have white and brown stripes that later turn black. However, when the park employees managed to take a closer look at the recently born foal, they noticed that while the stripes were there, they didn't cover the whole body. The foal was also an unusual brownish-orange color. At first, they thought it was because of the mud, but they eventually realized they were looking at a zonkey, not a zebra!
Apparently, during her stay at a local woman's cattle herd, a zebra mated with a donkey. As a result, a zonkey was born, which combined the strongly built body of its donkey father and the striped legs of its zebra mother.
They won't stay in the park forever.
A hybrid between a zebra and a donkey is extremely rare. And while they can lead a normal life, they can't breed once they reach maturity. The good news is, our zonkey and its mom are doing well in the park where they have enough grass and water to stay strong and healthy. And they'll stay there until some wild zebras discover them, at which point they'll be released into the wild.
Bonus: Here are more zonkeys!
What do you think about these zonkeys? What other animal hybrids do you know of? Have you ever seen one in real life? Please share your thoughts in the comments!