You must have heard of the musical based on the comic book character Superman, with the words – “It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s Superman!” Well, here in Africa we have a new bushveld version of this – “It’s a donkey. It’s a zebra. It’s a ZEDONK!!”
Last weekend we went hiking and camping at Ameib Ranch in the Erongo Mountains in Namibia and we were delighted and fascinated to see a zedonk – a cross between a zebra and a donkey. Actually we had seen this remarkable animal once before on a trip to this game ranch, but it was just as thrilling to see it again – this time a much bigger version as it had had a couple of years to grow up.
The zedonk is a Zebroid – which is the generic name for all zebra hybrids. This interbreeding, although interesting, is not ideal in nature because donkeys and wild equids don’t have equal numbers of chromosomes and this results in the offspring of such a mating being either poorly fertile in the case of females or sterile in the case of males. In most of these interbreedings, the sire is the zebra and the female is the donkey or the horse.
Our zedonk was happily hanging out with both horses and donkeys on the ranch – we didn’t see any signs of zebras in the vicinity and don’t know whether this zebroid was the result of ‘animal attraction’ between two species or an experiment on the part of the farmer.