Ovation: Ippo The Zonkey.
In the spring of 2009, we bought a horse. She was a beautiful quarter horse mare that was large and strong. She looked exactly like our other horses and we thought she’d be a great addition to our horse family. When she came to us she was a bit over weight. We thought it was a “grass belly” and that, once we had her on a consistent routine of diet and exercise she’d be just as fit as the others.
But she didn’t lose weight and our veterinarian quickly determined that she wasn’t overweight but she was carrying a foal. Imagine our surprise! The decision to take on the task of caring for an additional horse did not come without thought and financial planning so a “gift with purchase” would certainly throw our budget into a tailspin. Plus, we had no idea who, or what, had sired the baby.
Hours of online research and exchanging of emails led us to the conclusion that, because the mare had spent time the previous autumn in a pasture with three donkeys and a stallion, there was a seventy-five percent chance that our new mare was carrying a mule, the hybrid offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. With the health and safety of our mare in mind, we helped her bring her baby full term.
A similar situation led to the birth last week of Ippo the Zonkey.
In an animal reserve near Florence, Italy, a determined male zebra jumped a fence to get into a female donkey’s pen. Baby Ippo, an unusual zebra-donkey hybrid who looks like a typical donkey but carries the stripes of a zebra, is the resulting offspring of the encounter.
According to local reports, Ippo is in good health and his unintentional birth is a boon for the small sanctuary, which often takes in animals seized by police.
“Ippo is the only one of his kind in Italy!” – Serena Aglietti, a member of the family that owns the reserve.
The zebra-donkey hybrid, also called a “zedonk” or “zebroid”, is certainly unique but it’s not as uncommon as one might think. Interestingly, a cross between a male donkey and a female zebra, a hybrid known as a “donkra” was born in a Chinese zoo in 2011.
We would have welcomed a mule into our menagerie but our new mare gave us a beautiful Palomino foal. All horse and smart as the dickens. Our little foal wore a halter on the day she was born and was walking on a lead within a week. The experience of bringing our little “gift with purchase” into the world was one that I thought I’d never have but enjoyed immensely. Sadly, her arrival made our horse family too large to manage at the standard of care that we like to provide so, the following summer, mother and foal were re-homed together with a family out-of-town. We like to think that, to this day, they’re grazing together on a beautiful green pasture with wildflowers growing around the perimeter.
Have you ever heard of a Zonkey?
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