By Alison Fox
April 14, 2020
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A new addition born at a wildlife rescue in Kenya is not a zebra, but it’s not exactly a donkey either. It’s a zonkey.

The unique animal was the product of a stray zebra who wandered out of the country’s Tsavo East National Park and made herself at home as part of a local cattle herd, ingratiating herself amongst her new neighbors for weeks, according to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Credit: Courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

The trust, which is based in Nairobi and typically rescues young elephants and rhinos orphaned by everything from poaching to drought, was then asked to relocate the zebra and brought her to an anti-poaching team’s base in Chyulu National Park.

But then suddenly the zebra was spotted with a new addition: a small foal that didn’t quite look right. The new baby had a “surprising twist,” the trust noted, with a brown body and stripes only visible on its legs.

“At first, we thought that it had just been wallowing in the mud bath, but then the truth dawned on us: Our wayward zebra had given birth to a zonkey!” The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust wrote in a post about the new addition. “We’re happy to report that mum and baby are thriving. Their new home is in an area that isn’t plagued by heavy predation and thanks to the lush conditions, water and grass plentiful it is a good place to call home.”

Zebras typically give birth after a gestation period of about 12 months, the trust noted, assuming the zebra “had obviously become acquainted with an amorous donkey” when she was living with the community.

The zonkey is a mule, meaning while it will live a normal life, it won’t be able to successfully breed when it eventually reaches maturity. For now, the trust said mom and baby are waiting to be discovered by wild zebras.

“Until that day comes, they seem quite content to spend their days grazing side-by-side, a sight that makes us all stop and marvel at the wonders of nature.”