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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Rare Zebra/Donkey Hybrid Born at Wildlife Preserve

by Stephen Messenger
Porto Alegre, Brazil

zedonk photo

Photo via the Gainesville Times

They may be an unlikely pair, but just five days ago a zebra and donkey in Georgia welcomed into the world one very unique-looking baby girl -- a zedonk! Officials at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, where the cute little crossbred was born, are as surprised as anyone by the very rare coupling. It turns out, the zebra/donkey romance has been many years in the making, but somehow the duo managed to keep it a secret. "The animals have been running (in the fields) together for more than 40 years, but this is the first time that this has happened here," says the preserve's founder. "We never suspected that they (had mated), so it was quite a surprise when the zedonk was born."

zedonk-long.jpg While the mating may have been a well-kept secret, there's little mystery about which characteristics the baby zedonk inherited from her zebra father and which came from her donkey mother. With the distinctive black stripes of a zebra on her legs and face, and the narrow head of a donkey, the wildlife preserve's newest resident looks to be a perfect hybrid.

When it comes to temperament, however, it seems the five-day-old takes more after her dad, preserve general manager C.W. Wathen told the Gainesville Times:

Usually, a foal will lay over on its side, sunning itself. But the zedonk sits up at all time -- like she's on alert looking out for predators. She's still got some of her wild instincts.

Chances are the baby zedonk will never meet anything quite like her -- the infertile hybrid is actually quite rare -- though she'll have no shortage of companions at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, which is home to a variety of animals from around the globe.

Still, there is one type of visitor that the young zedonk is sure to be seeing plenty of, says Wathen: "The kids have been going crazy about the zedonk."