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Meet one local family's rare pet: A 'zonkey'

January 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Her name is Mona Lisa, and just like the famous da Vinci painting, she is rare and valuable.

Mara Baygulova came across Mona Lisa when she was looking to buy a donkey for her son. The original owner had no idea what he was about to part with: an unusual equine, a cross between a zebra and a donkey, called a zedonk or a zonkey.

"These things happen and you just marvel at the coincidence, that you should come across this extraordinary hybrid, rare and beautiful, she's really gorgeous," said Baygulova.

At first glance, you may think Mona Lisa is a donkey. But looking a little closer and you'll notice the stripes on her legs, the interesting markings on her ears and her mane and tail which have zebra-like black and white stripes.

"She has the cross on her back of a donkey, the height of zebra, the shape of a donkey with the goat belly, but the behavior is more zebra than donkey," said Baygulova.

Now 17 years old in people years, Mona Lisa brays like a donkey and barks like a zebra, and clearly loves the attention from her owner, her quarter horse pal, Ta-Tonka and even strangers.

Zebras and donkey rarely mate, and when they do experts say the odds of procreation are slim. Their offspring are generally sterile due to an odd number of chromosomes. Baygulova believes Mona Lisa came from a zebra mother.

"She has the best traits of them both, the wisdom of the donkey, the humor of a zebra and the energy of a zebra and the intelligence is remarkable," she said.


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