When caregivers were about to check on their beloved zebra at the Chyulu Hills National Park, they found a peculiar-looking foal by her side. It had stripes, but they were not as dark as it’s supposed to be and it barely covered its body.
The caregivers at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an animal rescue and rehabilitation organization, examined the foal and realized it was not 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 statement on Wednesday. “Even the most seemingly straightforward story can eventually reveal its true stripes and end up surprising us all.”
According to a report by CNN, the mama zebra was a stray who ventured out of Kenya’s Tsavo East National Park and into a community of local cattle herd.
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust usually takes care of baby elephants and rhinos, sometimes orphaned zebras. They transferred the zebra to Chyulu National Park when it was rescued from the herd.
A zebra’s pregnancy usually lasts 12 months, so the team realized how she became pregnant with a zonkey. It appears like she had “obviously become acquainted with an amorous donkey” during her time with the cattle herd last year.
“The zonkey combines the study body of its donkey sire and the striped legs of its zebra mother, which makes for a striking creature,” the organization 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 mama zebra and her baby zonkey will continue to enjoy their new habitat in the park until they are discovered by a zeal, or a group of wild zebras.
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