Zonkey Born in Northern Mexico Zoo

Mike TuttleLife

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Reynosa Zoo in northern Mexico welcomed a new baby zonkey to their facility on Monday, April 21.

A what, you ask? A zonkey. Zebra + Donkey = Zonkey.

The newborn named Khumba is quite a rare species in the animal world since zebra and donkey chromosomes are not usually compatible; however, when Khumba's mother, a female zebra named Rayas, met up with Ignacio, a blue-eyed albino donkey from a nearby farm, nature took its course. In fact, Rayas used to visit Ignacio every afternoon until eventually (wink wink), she became pregnant.

But Khumba is not actually the first zonkey to be born. Last year Ippo, another zonkey, was born in Florence, Italy. Mix breeds have also happened in the United States, Japan, China, and South Africa, where zebras and donkeys are found in close proximity to each other.

In 1859 Charles Darwin actually mentioned four colored drawings of hybrids between a zebra and an ass (zass?) in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, writing that he had seen such a specimen in the British Museum.

The true term for any offspring born of a zebra and other equine is zebroid. This can refer to a zony (zebra-pony), zorses (zebra-horses) ... well, you get the picture. Most of the time these combinations are only possible if the zebra is the sire, or father, but the case in the Reynosa Zoo this week proves otherwise.

In the case of most zebroids, the offspring normally resemble the non-zebra parent. This is the case for Khumba who looks like a light brown donkey wearing black and white leggings.

Of course, animals hooking up with other animals to create new ones doesn't just occur in the zebroid world. Fans of Napoleon Dynamite may remember a reference to a liger, a hybrid of a lion and tiger, bred for its "skills in magic." Other occurrences of note include the cama (camel and a llama), the jagulep (jaguar and leopard), the grolar bear (grizzly and polar bear), and the beefalo (cattle and bison).

Khumba the zonkey, or "cebrasno" in Spanish, can be seen at Reynosa Zoo, an educational and interactive entertainment in Tamaulipas.

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Mike Tuttle
Writer. Google+ Writer for WebProNews.