You’ve heard of mules, donkeys, and zebras, but what about wacky combinations like hinnies and zonkeys? And do you have any idea how they all relate to each other? In this post, we explain the relationship between horses, donkeys, and zebras, then explore what happens when these different species are combined.
Horses, donkeys, and zebras all belong to the Equidae family, giving them certain shared characteristics. These herbivores are all herd animals and swift runners. They also walk on the tips of their toes.
Equids’ stocky, hair-covered bodies typically have a mane and forelock (a lock of hair on the forehead). They have a thick, long skull with a long nasal bone and between 40 and 42 teeth.
Pregnancy for female horses and other equids lasts 11 to 13 months. They give birth about every 2 years to a single offspring. Their typical lifespan is 25 to 35 years.
It’s possible to breed most types of equids with each other - and people have certainly tried to do so. However, the attempts are not always successful, partly due to the different species’ different numbers of chromosomes. Even if offspring do result, they’re often infertile.
The name for a cross between 2 different equids typically combines the first part of the father’s species name with the second part of the mother’s species name. For example, a cross between a male zebra and a female horse is often called a zorse. However, there are many exceptions to this rule.
The general name for a hybrid between a zebra and a horse or donkey is a zebroid. Hybrids involving zebras tend to use a male zebra, not a female.
Male donkey + female horse = mule
Male horse + female donkey = hinny
Male mule = john
Female mule = molly
Mules are traditionally used as draft or pack animals. They’re known for being strong, hardy, intelligent, and sure-footed. They look similar to horses other than having longer ears.
Crosses between male donkeys and female horses are more common. Hinnies are also possible but more difficult to obtain. In either case, male animals (johns) are sterile, while female animals (mollies) can occasionally reproduce.
Male zebra + female horse = zorse
Male horse + female zebra = hebra
Male zebra + female pony = zony
Hybrid zebras are typically easier to work around and ride than standard zebras, while still retaining zebras’ hardiness and disease resistance. Zorses and hebras display stripes on the parent horse’s background colour. On horses with white patches, the stripes only show up on coloured hair.
The stripes tend to be most distinct on the legs and face, with fainter stripes along the body. Other features include a stripe along the spine, an upright mane, and large ears. Male animals tend to be sterile, while females are usually, but not always, sterile as well.
Male zebra + female donkey = zonkey, zedonk, zebronkey, zebadonk …
Male donkey + female zebra = donkra
As you might expect, donkras and zonkeys (or whatever you want to call them!) have a striped pattern on donkey colouring. Like with horse-zebra hybrids, the clearest stripes are on the legs. There’s also the same tendency for male animals to be sterile and female animals to be sterile most of the time.
Do you have a favourite of the many hybrid equids? Let us know in the comments!
Hello, My name is Shelby Gatti, and I am the owner of Shelby Ranch. I love being able to share my passion for animals with you and your family. At Shelby Ranch you can expect a ton of family adventure from horseback riding to mechanical bull riding & axe throwing.