The world welcomed the zonkey that was born to a Mexico zoo this week. Khumba is a miracle because his mother is a zebra named Rayas and his father is a dwarf albino donkey with blue eyes and his name is Ignacio. Their animal magnetism led to the Birth of a rare, but not uncommon creature.
Khumba, the new zonkey, was born in the Mexico zoo on April 21 and since then has become a very welcome addition to the family. His parents, Rayas and Ignacio, were never strangers to one another. The zoo in which Rayas was raised neighbored the farm where Ignacio resided. Every afternoon the female zebra would go to the farm to see Ignacio and other times he would spend time in the zoo with her. The two spent a lot of time together and Rayas eventually became pregnant with the little bundle of half-breed joy that would later be call Khumba the zonkey.
As stated earlier, cases like that of Khumba are rare, but they are not unheard of. Other forms of zebra hybrids do exist in other parts of the world. The different kinds of combinations belong to a subgroup known as zebroids. Khumba is a special case because it was originally thought that donkey and zebra chromosomes were not compatible at all. He is also special because of his appearance. He has inherited his mother’s long striped legs and his upper half is almost completely identical to that of his father, except that Ignacio is an albino dwarf donkey.
Zonkeys that were previously documented looked nothing like Khumba. Their legs are shorter and their stripes have a minimal appearance. In addition to Khumba in Mexico, There is a Canadian female donkey zebra hybrid named Zena who lives in the Oaklawn Park Zoo in Aylesford, Nova Scotia. There is another zonkey named Ippo who was born last year in Florence, Italy after his Zebra father jumped over a fence and landed in a neighboring enclosure that was made for housing donkeys. Ippo is now a famous tourist attraction in Italy. In Africa, zebra are bred with horses to make zorses that are used as animals made for carrying packs and equipment on expeditions up Mount Kenya. Other hybrids exist in China, Japan and other parts of the United States. They come in many different sizes and have many different patterns.
Khumba is a fascinating animal. However, it is unfortunate to know that he is more likely than not the end of his genetic line. While his parents still stand a very miniscule chance of creating another one like him, Khumba himself is not capable of reproduction by any means. The very combination that makes him so unique is the same thing that makes him unable to copulate with any other species, whether it is zebra, a horse, or another donkey, it does not matter because Khumba’s chromosome are the same as a mule. Meaning that he will never be able to reproduce and have others like him to be shown off to the world, because Khumba is sterile. This new zonkey born in the zoo in Mexico is something that most definitely needs to be seen by children and adults alike. The best thing humans can do for this creature is make sure he is comfortable and well taken care of so that as many people as possible are able to see this unique and magnificent zonkey before he is gone forever.
By Mike White