With the advancement in genetic breeding programs, a lot of hybrids are being developed, both for plant and animal species. A hybrid is the offspring produced by crossbreeding two genetically different varieties. The main objective is to develop plants or organisms with selective and improved characters. You might have heard of hybrid tomatoes that are larger and have a longer shelf life than the original parental species. Likewise, hybrid animals are also created for increased meat production, milk production, and other purposes.
The Zonkey is an animal hybrid created by crossing a zebra stallion and a donkey. The former is the father and the latter is the mother in this particular breeding. The characteristic stripes of the zebra make it a popular breeding stock, which is evident from other hybrids such as zorse or zebroid (a cross between a male zebra and a female horse), hebra or horbra (a cross between a horse and a zebra). Zonkey, as compared to zorse, is very rare and there is less information pertaining to this hybrid animal.
Some Interesting Facts
According to scientists, 'zonkey' is not a correct term for representing the cross between a zebra and a donkey. Rather, the generic name should be 'zedonk'. For a crossbreeding to take place, there are certain requirements that must be met. For example, the organisms should be genetically related species and also, they should have nearly equal chromosome numbers. As with zonkey, the parental stocks (zebra and donkey) belong to the horse family Equidae, and both are genetically related to each other. So, this highlights the possibility for crossbreeding between a zebra and a donkey.
As far as the genetic component is concerned, the chromosome number of the zebra is between 32-46, while the donkey has the chromosome number 62. Despite the vast difference in the chromosome number, the cross results in viable zonkey offspring. They have a chromosome number that falls in between the parental counts. Consequently, their characteristic traits somewhat resemble the parental species. Nevertheless, two zonkeys may not be the same, based on the interaction and expression of the parental genes in the resulting offspring.
Considering taxonomical classification of a zonkey, it is categorized under the family Equidae of the order Perissodactyla. The genus name is the same as that of a zebra and a donkey, i.e. Equus. Since they are created by crossing species of the same genus, they are referred to as an interspecific hybrid in scientific terms. Unlike plant hybrids, the hybrids of animals are mostly sterile, thus creating difficulty in generating future generations. The same holds true for zonkeys and many other hybrid animals.
Zonkeys are kept in large zoological collection centers for public interest. Many a time, breeders participate in open horse exhibitions to show off the talent and personality of their zonkeys. These animals are easily trainable. They can do anything that a horse or donkey can, such as jumping, trail riding, driving, etc. As per trainers, this hybrid animal is more defensive than a horse or donkey. It remains more cautious than other related species.
Not very often, but at times, breeders put up already trained zonkeys for sale. If you are interested in keeping this wonderful striped hybrid animal at home, then search for reliable breeders. You may need to spend approximately USD 3500-4000 for getting one at home. Gathering zonkey information pertaining to its diet, temperament, and training is most crucial to enjoying a friendly relationship with this rare hybrid animal.