Zonkey: Born at Mexico Zoo, Baby the Offspring of Zebra and Donkey

Friday, 25 Apr 2014 03:43 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A rare zonkey — the cross of a zebra and donkey — was born April 21 at Mexico’s Reynosa Zoo.

The combination is rare because donkey and zebra chromosomes are not usually compatible; zebras have 42 chromosomes, while donkeys have 62.

But the mother, a zebra named Rayas, was visited almost daily by a dwarf albino donkey named Ignacio who lived on a nearby farm, and apparently their chromosomes blended just fine, said WTVY. Named Khumba, the little zonkey is seen scampering around on striped legs, often chasing after his mother. His body coat is a light brown.

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Although rare, other zonkeys have been born. A zonkey named Ippo was born in Italy last year, and another one lives in Canada.

Ippo has more zebra lines than are evident in Khumba’s coat so far. Ippo was born to a donkey mother and a zebra father.

Ippo wasn’t bred on purpose; the zebra climbed a fence to reach the donkey, ANSA said.

Offspring zebra hybrid animals, like zonkeys or crosses with horses, are usually sterile.

Zebra-equine hybrids can sport different names, but are generally called zebroids. An International Business Times article that ran around the time Ippo was born in 2013 indicates that many may be calling Khumba by a wrong term. “Even rarer is when a male donkey pairs with a female zebra,” the article reads. "That foal is a 'donkra.'"

Animal hybrids are unusual, but not unheard of. A liger is the combination of a male lion and a female tiger, but those offspring occur only because people interfere in the process, as those two wouldn’t come across each other in nature. A tigon is the baby of a lioness and a male tiger.

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