According to CNN, the zebra at the Chyulu Hills National Park in Kenya was recently found with a peculiar-looking foal by her side. It had stripes, but they weren’t dark and barely covered her body.
When caregivers at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an animal rescue and rehabilitation organization, examined the foal up close, they were excited to discover it wasn’t a zebra after all — but a zonkey, a zebra–donkey hybrid.
“Working with wildlife, one learns to expect the unexpected,” the rescue group said in a news release on Wednesday. “Even the most seemingly straightforward story can eventually reveal its true stripes and end up surprising us all.”
The mama zebra, which doesn’t have a name, was a stray who ventured out of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park and into a community where she “made herself at home” amongst a local cattle herd, according to the rescue group.
The group, which usually takes care of baby elephants, rhinos and sometimes orphaned zebras, transferred the zebra to the Chyulu National Park.
Since zebra pregnancies last 12 months, the team was quickly able to figure out how it all happened. During her time with the cattle herd last year, she had “obviously become acquainted with an amorous donkey,” the news release said.
“The zonkey combines the sturdy body of its donkey sire and the striped legs of its zebra mother, which makes for a striking creature,” the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust said. “While it should otherwise lead a normal life, zonkeys are mules, meaning that it will be unable to successfully breed once it reaches maturity.”
The zebra and her baby zonkey are “thriving” in their new habitat, which isn’t swarmed with predators and has enough food and water to keep them happy. Until they’re discovered by a zeal, or a group of wild zebras, the pair will continue to enjoy the park.
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