A type of zebroid – zonkeys are born to a male zebra and a female donkey. Thanks to their mixed parentage, zonkeys are actually pretty rare and interesting creatures. Physically strong, fast and human-friendly, zonkeys only rarely occur in nature on their own – with most being bred on farms or zoos around the world.
Here are some cool and interesting facts about zonkeys you probably didn’t know!
1. Highly Social Animals
Zonkeys are super-social animals! And tend to live in herds. And just like their parents (zebras & donkeys) – zonkeys are a pack animal. And not just when it comes to their own kind – zonkeys are also super-friendly towards other livestock animals – including cows, goats and llamas. And well, humans.
Did you know?
Zebras, horses and donkeys all belong to the same animal family: the equidae. The generic term equids is used to refer to all three of them!
2. Zonkeys Are Sterile!
As a rule of thumb, most hybrid species in the world are sterile. Thanks to an odd number of chromosomes, young foals they are born without the ability to naturally reproduce. Even though most male zonkeys are always sterile; in some cases, a female zonkey may be fertile, and bed bred with another equid to create a third hybrid.
3. Love the Open Woodlands
While most zonkeys live on specialized farms (or zoos), they do have a preference when it comes to habitat. The open woodlands of Africa. Unlike dense forests, trees growing in open woodlands are more widely paced apart – allowing sunlight to hit the ground, and promote the growth of grass. A zonkey’s favorite meal to graze on!
4. Has Many Enemies in the Wild
Out in the African wild, zonkeys are the ultimate treat for many carnivorous animals! For example, lions, leopards and cheetahs are a zonkey’s main (and probably the scariest) predators to watch out for. And no, it’s not just the big cats – zonkeys are also equally vulnerable to attacks from wild dogs and hyenas.
5. Naturally Tanned!
Most zonkeys tend to have dark-coloured fur! Unlike zorses, who come in a much greater variety of lighter and darker shades – zonkeys are mostly brown, grey or black. This is largely due to a limited color variation found in the mother donkey!
6. Incredible Runners!
Zonkeys are also remarkably fast runners! In fact, did you know that zonkeys can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour! Making them the perfect riding animals for humans.
7. Need To Be Tamed
Guess what? It’s not just stripey legs that zonkeys inherit from a male zebra stallion! But also their father’s natural instincts of the wild. For all practical purposes, this means that if you decide to get a baby zonkey for a pet – you need to properly train and domesticate them first!
8. Working Animals
The vast majority of the world’s zonkey population lives in farms where they are used as working or trekking animals. For transporting farmers & crops from one end of the farm to the other. While we do feel a little bad for these grazing beauties working hard, the zonkey is actually an incredibly strong and hardy animal – living up to an average lifespan of over 25 years!
9. Discovered in 1859
In 1859, the first known zonkeys were officially reported – by none other than the father of evolutionary science – Charles Darwin. In his famous book ‘ The Origin of Species’ – Darwin dated the existence of these fascinating hybrids to as far back as 1815!
10. A Diurnal Creature
Zonkeys are diurnal creatures – which means they are active during the day. Unlike nocturnal animals like wolves & owls, zonkeys conduct their usual business while the Sun shines bright. Like other typical equids, zonkeys are mostly inactive during the night – a time for the animal to sleep or rest.
Zonkey diet is 100% vegetarian! Like other grazing equines of its kind, zonkeys simply love all things green. From grass, herbs and flowers to fruits such as berries – the zonkey is a true herbivore. Zonkeys living in Saharan deserts also eat shrubs and dessert plants. Thanks to their flat and broad teeth – zonkeys are able to efficiently graze all day long!
12. A Zonkey By Any Other Name
Zonkeys actually go by a myriad of interesting names. Some of the more well-known ones are:
Which one do you fancy the most? Let us us know in the comments below!
13. Has a black mane
Perhaps, you can already spot this wee difference between zonkeys and donkeys? Unlike a regular donkey, the zonkey has a black mane that runs across the entire length of their back. But where do they get it from? Zonkeys actually inherit this beautiful physical feature from their father – the male zebra stallion.
14. Ippo is the world most famous Zonkey
A few years ago, one particular zonkey broke the Internet. A young foal named Ippo was born in a zoo in Florence, Italy. How? Well, when a wandering Zebra (Martin) accidentally stepped inside an enclosure with endangered species of Amiata donkeys, the magic just happened. Fast forward 12 months, the new-born Ippo became the world’s most famous zonkey! Resembling his mother in appearance but inheriting his father’s wild temperament!
Here, at FluffyPlanet, we love discovering new & fascinating things about the wildlife.
If you have more interesting zonkey facts to share with our readers, feel free to comment below.