Friday, June 29, 2012


The Zonkey is a hybrid animal that is created by cross-breeding two different species of animal that belong to the same genetic group. Technically though, an individual is only classed as a Zonkey if it is sired from a male Zebra and female Donkey, as one that has a male Donkey and female Zebra parents is known as a Zedonk. Like many other animal hybrids around the world including the Mule and the Liger however, the Zonkey is a sterile creature meaning that it cannot produce offspring of it's own. Unlike the Liger though, it is actually quite possible for Zonkeys to live in the wild as Zebras and Donkeys are naturally found in close proximity to one another in parts of Africa. Although they are very rare, cases of wild Zonkeys have been reported but the majority of them today are found in zoos around the world and are bred as tourist attractions.
The Zebra and the Donkey are closely related to one another and both belonging to the Horse family means these two species share a number of similar characteristics including their size. The Zonkey tends to be of a similar size to these animals but takes on a more definitive Donkey-like appearance, with the obvious exception of inheriting the uniquely-striped pattern on their fur from their Zebra parent. Zonkeys tend to be either tan, brown or grey in colour with a lighter underside, and it is on the lighter parts of their body like their legs and belly where the Zonkey's darker stripes are most prominent (they are much harder to see on the darker parts). The Zonkey also has a black mane which extends along the ridge of their back to the tip if their black tail, and a large head and ears which makes the Zonkey look much more like a Donkey than a Zebra.
Despite being very similar animals both in appearance and behaviour, one of the biggest differences between the two is that unlike Donkeys which have been domesticated by Humans for thousands of years, Zebras remain to be wild animals and therefore have a naturally more aggressive nature. Along with their stripes, the other thing that Zonkeys seem to inherit from their Zebra parent is their wild streak as they too are known to be fairly aggressive towards Humans and sometimes other animals. One of the Zonkey's most favourable characteristics is their sheer power which is made up of the stamina of the Donkey mixed with the speed and strength of the Zebra, which has led to them being used as work animals mainly to pull heavy loads.
Like Donkeys, Zebras, Horses and their other relatives, Zonkeys are herbivorous animals meaning that they survive on a diet that is solely comprised of plant matter. The majority of their food is made up of grasses and herbs that grow on the ground and like all equines, the Zonkey has flat, broad teeth which are the perfect tools for grinding down the fibrous grass. Along with grazing, Zonkeys also like to browse for other types of food including fruits and berries which are found growing more commonly in less arid areas. Due to the fact that Zonkeys are naturally found in the African wilderness there is always competition for both food and water from other animals inhabiting the same area and so they are always on the move in search of greener pastures.
Despite their large size and the fact that they are long-living animals, both Zebras and Donkeys (and therefore Zonkeys) are important prey to numerous carnivores throughout their natural range. Lions and Hyenas are their most common predators, along with African Hunting Dogs and large felines like Leopards and Cheetahs. Even though they remain a stable food source for these large predators, they are often hard to catch and Zebras particularly are known to protect wounded individuals to prevent them from being hurt any more. Although rarer today, one of the biggest threats to both Zebras and Donkeys in Africa has been the fact that they have been subjected to hunting for both their meat and their skins. They are also being pushed into more isolated regions of the natural habitats meaning a decrease in the likelihood of wild Zonkeys.
Originally bred by Humans to pull heavy loads and thought to have appeared in zoos in the 19th century, the Zonkey first became really famous when one was accidentally sired in Colchester Zoo in the 1970s, and they have since continued to exhibit Zonkeys as a popular tourist attraction. Along with now being bred in zoos around the world, Zonkeys are also bred for riding and as work animals involved in transport and pulling heavy loads due to their strength and stamina. In the wild in Africa however, Zebras have come under particular threat from people due both hunting and loss of habitat for growing Human settlements or land clearance

Monday, June 11, 2012


Hippopotamuses love water, which is why the Greeks named them the "river horse." Hippos spend up to 16 hours a day submerged in rivers and lakes to keep their massive bodies cool under the hot African sun. Hippos are graceful in water, good swimmers, and can hold their breath underwater for up to five minutes. However, they are often large enough to simply walk or stand on the lake floor, or lie in the shallows. Their eyes and nostrils are located high on their heads, which allows them to see and breathe while mostly submerged.

Hippos also bask on the shoreline and secrete an oily red substance, which gave rise to the myth that they sweat blood. The liquid is actually a skin moistener and sunblock that may also provide protection against germs.
At sunset, hippopotamuses leave the water and travel overland to graze. They may travel 6 miles (10 kilometers) in a night, along single-file pathways, to consume some 80 pounds (35 kilograms) of grass. Considering their enormous size, a hippo's food intake is relatively low. If threatened on land hippos may run for the water—they can match a human's speed for short distances.

Hippo calves weigh nearly 100 pounds (45 kilograms) at birth and can suckle on land or underwater by closing their ears and nostrils. Each female has only one calf every two years. Soon after birth, mother and young join schools that provide some protection against crocodiles, lions, and hyenas.
Hippos once had a broader distribution but now live in eastern central and southern sub-Saharan Africa, where their populations are in decline.

The group of hippos is led by one large male. The other members are females, their young, and a few young adult males. The leader of the group keeps control of his mating territory by fighting off rivals. When a male hippo in the group challenges him, the leader opens his enormous mouth, revealing long canines.

Often the display is enough to make the challenging hippopotamus back off. Sometimes, however, hippos fight aggressively, leading to deep wounds and sometimes even death. The family group of hippos spends most of the day in the water. Staying submerged helps a hippo stay cool in the hot, tropical climate where it lives.

The scientific name for the common hippo is Hippopotamus amphibious.
Hippopotamus comes from two Greek words that mean river horse.
Hippos' toes are webbed, which helps them paddle through the water.

Female hippos are able to have babies at about seven years old.
Baby hippos are born underwater. They can swim almost from the moment they're born.

Hippos can live to be more than 40 years old in the wild.
Hippopotamuses are aggressive, do not fear humans, and are considered one of Africa's more dangerous animals.
Lions, crocodiles, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs often kill baby hippos, but adult hippos are rarely attacked.

The only land animals larger than hippos are elephants and rhinoceroses.


life span in the wild:Up to 40 yearsSize:Head and body, 9.5 to 14 ft (2.8 to 4.2 m); tail, 13.75 to 19.75 inches (35 to 50 cm)

Weight:5,000 to 8,000 lbs (2,268 to 3,629 kg)

Group name:School