A “zonkey” born at a Mexico zoo on April 21 is attracting visitors and media. The fusion of a zebra mother and a donkey father produced the rare zonkey offspring at the northern Mexico Reynosa Zoo. It’s a boy! Meet Khumba the zonkey, a beautiful brown animal with adorable striped legs, a chestnut donkey coat and zebra ears.
According to the Inquistr on April 26, the combination of the two species is rare, as the chromosomes between a donkey and a zebra are believed to be generally incompatible. But don’t tell that to Khumba’s mother Rayas or his father, Ignacio, who himself is a bit of a rarity – a blue-eyed albino donkey from a nearby farm. The Inquisitr said the parents of the zonkey used to “visit each other every afternoon.” We know what that means. Hee-haw!
The rare mash-up between the donkey and the zebra is certainly a sight to see. But despite what seems like an odd Harry Potter concoction or a Jurassic Park creation, there are other zonkeys in the world, though not many. Technically termed a “zebroid,” Khumba is a hybrid animal produced by a zebra mother and a father of another equine species.
Zebras have between 32 and 46 and donkeys have 62. In spite of this difference, zonkeys can be born if the gene combination in the hybrid allows for embryonic development to birth. Zonkeys chromosomes can range between 32 and 62.
The birth of the baby zonkey quickly caught attention of the world after twitter photos of the shy zebroid went viral. Like most young ones, Khumba is a little camera shy and generally stays close to his striped mom. Khumba is thought to be of three zonkeys alive at this time. In 2005, a zonkey named Alex was born in Barbados. Last year, another zonkey named Ippo was born in Italy.
Like other hybrids, Khumba will not be able to reproduce. Nevertheless, he’s certainly one of a (very small) kind, and the zoo is happy to have him. Ippo the zonkey apparently had a huge impression on the public and he eventually became a major tourist attraction in Italy. He now has his rival, but we’re sure one zonkey or so per continent will work out just fine.
Ippo was born in Florence last year, and as The New York Daily News so eloquently puts it, “Owner Serena Aglietti built a fence to separate the two animals. But somehow, in the golden light of a field in Florence, love flowered.” Donkeys and zebras will do just about anything when in the throes of love it seems.