Italy gets its first zonkey

A zebra and a donkey at an Italian nature reserve are now the proud parents of a zonkey, a hybrid between the two species. 

By , Contributor

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    A zonkey was born in an Italian reserve.
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What do you get when you cross a donkey with a zebra?

A zonkey, of course.

A zonkey was born to a female donkey and a male zebra in an Italian nature reserve earlier this week. The owner of the Florence reserve, Serena Aglietti, has called it the only one of its kind in the state, ANSA reported.

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The unusual breeding wasn’t intentional. The zebra cleared a fence that had been put up between him and his romantic interest to ward against exactly what happened: the birth of Ippo, who has stripped black-white legs, a brown middle, and a donkey-shaped face.

The donkey, Jade, and the zebra, Martin, were brought to the nature reserve after being rescued from a failed zoo, Science World Report said.

The reserve is also home to parrots and a camel, which seem unlikely candidates for giving birth to future donkels, zebrels, paronkeys, zebrots, or pramelots. But don’t count on an end to Martin’s shenanigans: The reserve also has racehorse – one that, in fact, is a potential mate for a zebra.

The zebra is known for eccentric choice in mates, selecting reproductive partners not just from within its own species but from the entire Equus genus. Those animals are collectively known as zebroids, but also have specific names depending on the hybrid: zonys blend pony and zebra, while zorses unite a horse and a zebra. The name also depends on the sex of the animal giving birth: had Martin the zebra been female and Jade the donkey been male, their offspring would have been called a donkra. 

But the creative fun stops there. The resulting hybrids are usually sterile, precluding the possibility of ending up with a zonkeyzorse or, further down the line, a zonkeyzonyzorse.

Zonkeys have also been born in Germany, China, and the United States. The American Zonkey, born in Georgia in 2010, is called Pippi Longstocking.

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