Fun Zonkey Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 09, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Zonkey facts give detailed information about these real hybrid animals.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.9 Min

A Zonkey is a hybrid that is produced by mating a male zebra and a female donkey. After successful fertilization, the female donkey goes through a gestation period of about a year or a little more.

The donkey gives birth to a single zonkey foal. Just like its zebra and donkey counterparts, the zonkey foal can also stand up within minutes after birth. The baby zonkey continues to stay close to its mother for five to six months, before gaining maturity.

Zonkeys are not able to reproduce as they are hybrid animals and are sterile. Very rarely a fertile female zonkey can be found. Zonkeys are considered to be sparse in number because they do not reproduce naturally in the wild.

These species are either found in the continent of Africa or as working animals with humans. Zonkeys are found in zoos as well.

Charles Darwin mentioned the presence of such zebra hybrids in his works. Zonkeys are bred by humans to be kept as work animals since these animals have a good amount of strength and also are thought to inherit resistance to certain diseases and pests from their zebra parent.

In the wild, these species lead a very nomadic life, as they are constantly searching for new grasslands. They are diurnal in nature, which means they conduct more of their activities during the day.

It is also interesting to note that zonkeys inherit their temperament from the zebra parent and hence, tend to be aggressive, unlike donkeys.

To gain more insight into this interesting hybrid animal, continue reading this article containing zonkey facts! You may also enjoy plains zebra and Siberian tiger facts on our website.

Zonkey Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Zonkey?

A zonkey is a hybrid mammal that was created by crossing a male zebra and a female donkey. Both of these species belong to the horse family. A zonkey is considered to be sterile, due to its odd chromosome number.

What class of animal does a Zonkey belong to?

Zonkeys belong to the class Mammalia. They are a part of the horse family, known as Equidae.

How many Zonkeys are there in the world?

The exact number of zonkeys that are currently present in the world is not known. Since these animals can only be produced when they are inter-bred, there is not much information on their population trends. However, they are considered rare and their abundance is relatively low.

Where does a Zonkey live?

Zonkeys are mostly found in captivity. So, they can be seen in specialized farms and also be found in zoos. In the wild, zonkeys are seen in areas like savannas and open woodlands in Africa. They are also sometimes seen near human settlements.

What is a Zonkey's habitat?

Zonkeys are mostly limited to captive areas, as they are bred and used as work animals. So, they can be seen on a typical farm. They are also on display in some zoos, where natural habitat is created for them.

These animals are indigenous to Africa. The habitat of a zonkey in the wild falls under savannas and open woodlands.

The former is a mixture between woodlands and grasslands with the presence of trees spaced apart from each other. Such an arrangement allows enough sunlight to reach the ground and help in the growth of grasses, which the zonkeys feed on. An open woodland is also characterized by trees that are growing away from each other.

Who do Zonkeys live with?

Zonkeys prefer living in a herd or pack, just like their parent species, the zebras and donkeys. Since they are domesticated, they can also live with humans.

How long does a Zonkey live?

Zonkeys live a pretty long life. Their average lifespan ranges from 15-25 years.

How do they reproduce?

Zonkeys are not able to reproduce as they are hybrid animals and are sterile. It is rarely seen that a female zonkey is fertile.

However, since there are no fertile male zonkeys, the female can be bred with a donkey or a zebra. In this case, the offspring that is produced would no longer have a genetic constituency of half donkey and half zebra. The baby zonkey would have more traits of whichever animal was chosen as the male parent.

In this instance, there is a very rare chance that the baby produced is fertile. This can only occur if they get the right set of genes from the father.

What is their conservation status?

Since zonkeys are a species that is cross-bred, they cannot propagate their population due to sterility. Hence, they have not been listed in the IUCN or International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, zonkeys are not that common, and their numbers are pretty few. In the wild, their main threats are predators like lions, hyenas, leopards.

Zonkey Fun Facts

What do Zonkeys look like?

Since the zonkey is a hybrid between zebra and a donkey, the zonkey resembles both its parents in terms of size. However, the zonkey appearance can be more closely compared to donkeys due to their prominent head and ears.

They do inherit the beautiful and unique stripes from the zebra. A zonkey is gray, tan, or brown in color, but has a lighter colored underside.

The dark stripes are visible on these lighter areas like the belly region and the legs.

On the rest of the zonkey body, the stripes remain mostly invisible due to their darker color. They also have a dark mane that extends along the length of the ridge on their back and stops at their black tail.

Zonkey walking

How cute are they?

Zonkeys do appear very cute due to their size and patterns on the fur. They are one of the most unique-looking animals and instantly catch your attention.

How do they communicate?

A zonkey is half zebra and half donkey. Hence, these hybrids show a similar method of communication to that of their parents. Like zebras and donkeys, they usually make braying or whinny sounds to communicate with each other. They also move their tails and ears to communicate.

How big is a Zonkey?

A zonkey has a height of 3.5-5 ft or 106.6 cm-152.4 cm. These hybrids are similar in size to a regular donkey.

How fast can a Zonkey move?

Zonkeys are remarkably fast animals and have a speed of or 35 m/hr 60 km/hr.

How much does a Zonkey weigh?

Zonkeys can weigh anywhere between 18-1,000 lb or 80-450 kg.

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male and females are known as male zonkey and female zonkey, respectively. They are hybrids of male zebras known as stallions and female donkeys known as jenny.

What would you call a baby Zonkey?

A younger zonkey is known as a foal.

What do they eat?

Zonkeys are herbivorous and mainly rely on plant matter for food. The zonkey animal generally feeds on various herbs and grasses. They also like to feed on different kinds of fruits and berries. Zonkeys have flat and broad kinds of teeth, which equips them with the perfect tool to chew such food materials.

Are they dangerous?

Zonkeys are not really considered dangerous but they do need to be trained and domesticated from when they are young so that they do not become aggressive to humans or other animals.  

Would they make a good pet?

A zonkey is particularly bred to serve as a work animal. Hence, they can be considered pets. However, zonkeys are not like donkeys with regard to their temperament. These hybrids inherit this trait from the zebra species, who are wild and tend to be aggressive. Hence, the zonkey will have to be trained so that they display calm behavior.

Did you know...

The genetic science behind why a zonkey tends to be an infertile species is quite interesting. Even though both zebras and donkeys belong to the same genus of Equus (horse family), they have different numbers of chromosomes.

For instance, a zonkey offspring is usually produced by inter-breeding a donkey and plains zebra species. While the donkey has 62 chromosomes, the zebra has 44 chromosomes.

Consequently, the hybrid offspring gets 53 chromosomes, which is an odd number. Since an odd number of chromosomes divide unequally, the offspring do not get a viable set of chromosomes.

This mostly occurs with the male zonkey, as they are heterogametic (carries X and Y chromosomes). The females in this species can still be fertile, but instances are rare.

Just like a zonkey, a zebra horse hybrid is also seen. When male zebras and female horses mate, they produce Zorse. However, zebras tend to pair better with donkeys, as they have similar forms of communication and behavior.

Is the Zonkey endangered?

The zonkey population is not enlisted in the IUCN list, as this animal is not a true species. This hybrid is produced mostly by humans to be used as working animals.

They are also bred to be displayed in zoos. In the wild, zonkeys can occur, but they do so very rarely. It only happens when a zebra and a donkey are in close proximity, naturally and they mate.

However, out of the three zebra species, two are marked as Vulnerable and Endangered. So, the chances of zonkeys occurring naturally are also pretty slim.

The history of the Zonkey

In the year 1859, famous naturalist Charles Darwin reported a donkey and zebra hybrid. These were produced in 1815. In his book 'Origin of Species', Darwin illustrated four colored drawings depicting the hybrids between a donkey and zebra.

Hence, this animal was probably introduced in the world in the 19th century. The Colchester Zoo in Essex also successfully produced this species.

They did so the first time in 1971. The zoo also conducted a breeding program, becoming one of the first zoos to do so, in 1975 and this resulted in the production of several hybrids. The main aim behind producing these hybrids was to create a work animal for Africa.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including tamandua, or zebra shark.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one on our zonkey coloring pages.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >