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What is a Zedonk?

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

A zedonk is an animal in the horse family that is a cross between a zebra and a donkey. There are nearly a dozen other hybrid names that are used to describe this hybrid animal including zonkey, zebrass, zebrula, zebrinny, zebronkey, zebonkey, and zebadonk. There are also some variations in the spelling of zedonk, another option being zeedonk. In one way, zedonks are very much like mules; they cannot reproduce. In order for a zedonk to be born, a female donkey must mate with a male zebra.

The zedonk is a very rare animal. It is so rare, in fact, that most people will only ever see them in photographs, documentaries, and news clips. They are occasionally found in zoos, where they are sometimes born. In some of these reported cases, the zookeepers were not aware that the donkey and zebra had even mated. These cases have made for very unexpected and exciting births, especially at the moment when the striped legs appeared.


There have also been some less accidental cases in which zebras and donkeys have been intentionally bred by zoos in order to birth zedonk foals. In addition to being found in some zoos, zedonks may also be found in nature. The animals sometimes appear in areas where donkeys and zebras live in the same or neighboring regions.

There is some variation in the markings found on a zedonk, but it is common for the animals to have a brown or buff-colored body with legs that are striped with black and white. There are some cases in which the body of a zedonk is quite dark, even close to black in color. There are also color variations in which the stripe pattern of the zebra is faint or muted within the body of the zedonk.

The term "zebroid" is used to define a few types of animals that are zebra hybrids. In close relation to the zedonk are the zorse and the zony. A zorse is the product of a zebra and a horse coupling. A zony is the product of a zebra and a pony coupling. These animals bear some resemblance to a zedonk such as the partial or muted coloring of a zebra. Just as with zedonks, these animals also have specific requirements when it comes to their parentage in terms of which parent is the zebra and which parent is the other member of the horse family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a Zedonk?

A Zedonk is a hybrid animal resulting from the crossbreeding of a zebra and a donkey. Specifically, it is the offspring of a male zebra and a female donkey, also known as a jenny. These unique creatures inherit physical characteristics from both parents, such as the distinctive stripes of a zebra and the body shape of a donkey.

Can Zedonks reproduce?

Zedonks are typically sterile due to the mismatch of chromosomes inherited from their parents—zebras have 32 to 46 chromosomes depending on the species, while donkeys have 62. This chromosomal difference usually prevents zedonks from successfully reproducing, which is a common trait among many hybrid animals.

Where can Zedonks be found?

Zedonks are not naturally occurring animals and are most commonly found in captivity, such as in zoos or on private farms. They are sometimes bred for their unique appearance or for practical purposes, like work animals in rough terrain where a zebra's wild instincts can be beneficial.

What is the lifespan of a Zedonk?

The lifespan of a Zedonk can vary, but they generally live for about 15 to 25 years. This is comparable to the lifespan of their donkey parent, which can live into their 30s, and slightly less than a zebra, which can live up to 25 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

Are Zedonks recognized as a species?

Zedonks are not recognized as a distinct species. They are considered hybrids, which means they are the product of two different species interbreeding. As such, they do not have a scientific name that denotes a separate species and are not found in the wild.

How do Zedonks behave in the wild or in captivity?

Zedonks are not found in the wild as they are the result of human-facilitated breeding. In captivity, their behavior can be a mix of both donkey and zebra traits. They may exhibit the strong and sturdy nature of donkeys along with the more skittish and wild behavior of zebras, making them unpredictable at times.

Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for AllThingsNature, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

Learn more...
Diane Goettel
Diane Goettel

In addition to her work as a freelance writer for AllThingsNature, Diane is the executive editor of Black Lawrence Press, an independent publishing company based in upstate New York. She has also edited several anthologies, the e-newsletter Sapling, and The Adirondack Review. Diane has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.A. from Brooklyn College.

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Discussion Comments


How fascinating it would be to see an actual zedonk! I think zebras are such beautiful animals and to have some of the characteristics of a donkey would be so interesting.

I wonder what they sound like and if they would be able to be trained to ride. I remember seeing a picture online of someone riding a zedonk, so this must not be too hard to do.

It is easy to see how this could happen in the wild where these two animals live in their natural habitat. It would not be much different than dogs and wolves who live in close proximity and breed.


There are so many interesting crossbreed animals out there, it is really something to see what nature can come up. I don't really see an issue with zedonks as it happens naturally. They are no different than a tigon or leopon in my opinion. I think that as long as two species are compatible there is no problem with them mating.

Does anyone know where you would go to see an actual zedonk? I think the problem with most crossbreeds is that they are very rare and can be hard to see. I would love to take my kids to a zoo that had all kinds of interesting mixed animals.


It would be really interesting to see what would happen if crossbreeding donkeys and zebras ever became more popular. It seems to me that miniature donkeys with stripes would make quite the novelty pet for a lot of people.

I think that it is OK to crossbreed animals as long as there no ill health effects to the creatures. I know that when we work on crossbreeding certain kinds of dogs for example, that they sometimes have health problems. I had a crossbreed dog and it suffered from a heart defect because of its breeding. Had I known that in advance I would have never purchased one.


@anamur-- I think zedonk's size can vary. They are not necessarily always smaller than a zebra.

From what I've seen, zedonks are definitely taller than donkeys and they may or may not reach the size of a zebra.

I also think that which parent is which of the two makes a difference as well. I saw a picture of a zedonk that was born from a female zebra and a male donkey. He was the same size as a zebra. I've seen others that are smaller. So it's just genetics at play, but they are definitely bigger than mules.


It's so sad that zedonks and other hybrid animals cannot give birth. They are not only born very rarely, but there is no way to guarantee more of these species. I understand zoologists wanting to breed these animals by unnatural means. They are so very unique and beautiful. I have seen a zedonk once in my life. My kids have never seen it but I hope that they'll get a chance to soon.

As much as breeding them is good for new generations to see these animals, they still will be sterile. I guess this is what nature intended for them. We are very lucky to still be able to witness and hear about such amazing hybrids.


@David09 - Relax - this kind of cross breeding has been going on throughout history. It hardly rises to the level of bringing back ancient dinosaurs.

I even vaguely recall Charles Darwin noting some of these creatures in some of his travels when he wrote The Origin of the Species.

I actually don’t think that the two breeds are all that different. Further, I think that a zorse would actually be stronger than a pony too. Perhaps if you were an ancient Oriental king or someone like that you could appreciate an animal like this for its beauty or strength.


So now I am thinking of the line from the Jurassic Park movie, “Just because we can do it, does that mean we should?”

I have to ask, what is the purpose of cross breeding zebras and donkeys to create zedonks, or zebras and ponies to create to create zonies, or any other strange combination mentioned in the article?

I have never seen a zedonk myself, and the whole concept strikes me as something similar to a weird donkey show carnival attraction. I suppose there is some scientific merit to it; I just don’t know what it is.

In cases where the zebras and the donkeys get together on their own, there is nothing we can do about that. I say, let nature take her course then; but otherwise I think we should stay out of cross breeding, especially among different species.


I read an article in the newspaper yesterday about a zedonk that was born in the zoo and I saw a picture of it for the first time!

This is by far the most adorable animal I have set my eyes on. It resembles both a donkey and a zebra. The one I saw in the paper looked like the top half of his body had taken after his mom, and the bottom half, his dad. He had huge ears and fluffy hair like donkeys do, but a zebra-like face and striped legs!

This one was still a baby, but I think that zedonks are also smaller in size than both donkeys and zebras. I think mules are the same way too. I've heard that mules are small but extremely strong and fast animals because it takes the best qualities of both the donkey and the horse.

I wonder if the same is true for zedonks too? Is it faster than a donkey and stronger than a zebra?

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