Meet Nature Hybrid: A Zebroid

Meet Nature Hybrid: A Zebroid

Did you know that zebroids are not fairytale creatures but real living animals? Zebroids are an interesting example of hybrids bred from species that have different chromosome number. A zebroid is an animal crossed between a zebra and any other equine, usually a donkey or a horse. So here you can get to know these really unique and amazing animals.

What Are The Differences?

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Image credit: Yannik Willing/AFP/Getty Images

Horses have 64 chromosomes and zebras have between 32 and 44 (depending on species). Even so, the nature finds a way. Donkeys are closely related to zebras and both animals belong to the horse family. These donkey zebra hybrids are really rare. In Africa, they occur where donkeys and zebras are found in proximity to each other.

Like mules that due to an odd number of chromosomes disrupt meiosis, they are generally genetically unable to breed. But in most cases, the father is a zebra stallion. An offspring of a zebra mother and donkey father is called a zebra hinny (or donkra). They do exist but are really rare. Zebroids have been bred from the 19th century.

Physical Description

Zebroids physically look like their non-zebra parent but have the stripes like a zebra. The stripes generally do not cover the whole body, but most often spread onto parts of the neck or legs. If  the nonzebra parent was patterned, like a roan, Appaloosa, Pinto horse, piebald, or skewbald, this pattern can be passed down to the zeroed, in which case the stripes are usually confined to areas that are not white.

Zorses combine the zebra striping overlaid on colored areas of the hybrid animal.  Zorses are most often bred with solid color horses. If the horse parent is piebald (black and white) or skewbald (white and other color) the zorse will inherit the dominant depigmentation genes for white color. Zebroids are preferred over zebra for practical uses, such as riding. The zebra has a different body shape compared to a horse or donkey, and it is very difficult to find tack to fit a zebra.

Okapi looks like a cross between and a giraffe and a zebra! But it’s more of a fish here. The okapi is relative of the giraffe that has zebra-striped legs. Even though known to locals, the okapi was considered a mythical animal among Europeans until it was classified in the beginning of 20th century. Okapis are not descended from or related to zebras.

Behavior

A zebroid is usually more temperamental than a pure-breed horse and it is not easy to handle. Zebras are wild animals that not domesticated such as donkeys or horses, so they pass on their wild animal traits to their offspring. Zebras are not usually very large, but are very strong and aggressive. Similarly, zorses have a hard temperament and can be aggressive.

What Is Their Purpose?

They were originally bred as pack animals in Africa for practical reasons. They are more resistant to many diseases, like sleeping sickness, than donkeys or horses. 

A zonkeyPhoto by Leogirly4life

Zebroids for domestic use are breed for the domesticated nature of horse or donkey and the look of zebra. The crossbreed is often shaped like the non-zebra parent, which makes finding proper saddle easier than riding a zebra. 

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