Forbidden love didn’t end with Shakespeare, or even with humans for that matter. Due south of Verona in an animal reserve in Florence, Italy, a randy male zebra scaled a fence to woo his equine lady love, an endangered Donkey of Amiata. But unlike the tragic outcome of many star-crossed lovers, the fruit of this affair – a rare zebra-donkey hybrid named Ippo – is inspiring ecstatic exclamations of “awww” across the globe.
Baby Ippo, whose markings look like striped thigh-high stockings that fade into a riot of utter fuzzy cuteness, was said to be in good health shortly after his birth.
Zonkeys, also known as zedonks or zebroids, are the unique creation of parents both from the horse family, but with two different types of DNA. Like mules, which are the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, they are generally unable to have babies of their own.
Ippo’s father was adopted by the animal reserve after he was rescued from a failing zoo, reports ABC News; his mother is a Donkey of Amiata, an endangered breed from Tuscany.
Serena Aglietti, an employee at the reserve, said "Ippo is the only one of her kind in Italy."
Yet there are other zonkeys outside of Italy. One was recently born in China, and the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Georgia is the home of a zonkey born in 2010. C.W. Wathen, the founder of Chestatee, said that the zonkey has been in good health since her birth.
See Ippo and mom in the Italian news report below:
Related animal stories on MNN:
- 11 amazing hybrid animals
- Frankenkitties: House cats bred with wild animals sell for $35,000
- Animal hybrids may thrive where their parents don't