An adorable zonkey has been discovered at the Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya, alongside one of the park’s zebras. Which means bizarrely, a zebra has mated with a donkey – who’d have thought!?
At Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, caregivers have found a little foal that looks different from the others as it has much fainter stripes, which only cover half of her body.
As the caregivers at the animal rescue and rehabilitation organisation took a closer look, they realised that this foal wasn’t a zebra at all – it was a zonkey, an offspring of a zebra and a donkey.
On Wednesday 8 April, the group published a press release, stating: “Working with wildlife, one learns to expect the unexpected.
“Even the most seemingly straightforward story can eventually reveal its true stripes and end up surprising us all.”
It's a Zonkey! We've connected the dots…. or is that joined the stripes, as to the origins of this unusual character, born to a female zebra helped last year by our SWT/KWS Tsavo Vet Unit. Get the full story at https://t.co/FHCp1VyCuw pic.twitter.com/zrOww0cSHp
— Sheldrick Wildlife (@SheldrickTrust) April 8, 2020
The mummy zebra has yet to be named but was a stray who made her way out of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park and mixed into a herd of local cattle, apparently where she ‘made herself at home’.
Typically, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust cares for baby elephants, rhinos and the occasional orphaned zebras, yet they decided to take in this mama and welcome her to Chyulu Hills National Park.
A zebra pregnancy lasts about 12 months, which made it easy for the staff to figure out how she became pregnant, as she had spent so much time with the cattle herd within the last year.
The wildlife trust explained further: “The zonkey combines the sturdy body of its donkey sire and the striped legs of its zebra mother, which makes for a striking creature.
“While it should otherwise lead a normal life, zonkeys are mules, meaning that it will be unable to successfully breed once it reaches maturity.”
Thankfully, the mummy zebra and baby are flourishing at the national park as they don’t have many predators and are guaranteed plenty of food and water to keep them happy and content.
If you’ve not heard of a zonkey before, that’s because they’re incredibly rare. The likelihood of a zebra and a donkey mating is very uncommon, as they do not share the same number of chromosomes – making this little foal incredibly unique!