A Zebra and a Donkey Fell in Love and Now We Have a Zonkey!

Image credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

What happens when a zebra and a donkey fall in love with each other? Well, not much usually, but on very rare occassions the affair might result in the birth of a rare hybrid animal called ‘zonkey’.

This is exactly what has just happened in a Kenyan national park where workers recently noticed an unusual newcomer. Unlike zebra foals, he has few stripes, and when experts from a conservation organization looked at the animal a little closer, they realized that the reason for this was that his lovely dad was not a zebra but a donkey!

Image credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

Based on how long zebras are usually pregnant, the team calculated that the little zonkey had been conceived when her mother ventured out of the Tsavo East National Park and into a community bordering the park. She made herself right at home there, becoming an honorary member of a local woman’s cattle herd.

During her time living within the community, she had obviously become acquainted with an amorous donkey. The zonkey combines the sturdy body of its donkey sire and the striped legs of its zebra mother, which makes for a striking creature. While he should otherwise lead a normal life, zonkeys are mules, meaning that he will be unable to successfully breed once he reaches maturity.

Image credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
Image credit: Sheldrick Wildlife Trust


  1. Patti Lundgren says she looked for Meetup groups when she moved to the area and was intrigued by the donkey hikes. Now she regularly drives 45 minutes to volunteer at Donkey Park. “There’s such a gentle energy about them,” Lundgren says. “I always leave here feeling really good. The dirtier I am, the better I feel. Ah, donkey therapy, donkey love.”


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