Nature really is wild in so many ways, and we, as humans, should never be surprised at the way animals find a way to accustom themselves to different situations.
In the spring of 2019, a community warden from Mutomo Station in Kenya, asked a nearby mobile veterinary unit for some help relocating a zebra. It seems that the zebra had wandered away from the Tsavo East National Park, one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya. The animal had made itself at home in a small community in the area and had quickly adjusted to being with a local herd of cattle. The veterinary team, based on the knowledge that the animal had become accustomed to community life, choose to relocate her to a safe area in Chyulu National Park, where she could be watched by the Kenze Anti-Poaching Team.
The adaptable zebra proved that she could thrive anywhere and quickly settled into her new surroundings, frequently seen by the Kenze team at the watering hole and salt lick. Months passed and in the early months of 2020, this amazing zebra was spotted with a small foal at her side. The surprise for the team was that the foal didn’t look like any ordinary baby zebra. Instead of the distinct white and brown stripes of zebra foals, this one had a suspiciously light brown colour to most of its body, with only stripes visible on its legs. The gestation period for a zebra is twelve months, so the timeline was clear, and it didn’t take long for them to decide what had happened.
Although a rare occurrence, it was obvious that the mare had mated with a donkey from the village from where she had been relocated. The result is an animal with a donkey’s sturdy body and colouring and striped zebra legs, creating a striking combination. Extremely rare, most zonkeys are found in South Africa, as it is one of the only places that zebra mares and donkeys are in close proximity. Zonkeys are considered mules and sadly are not able to breed but can otherwise live a normal life.
Happily, this one is safe and thriving alongside his adventurous mother, and they are both being watched by the adoring eyes of the Kenze team, who plan to introduce other orphaned zebras to the area when they can to keep these two company.