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Wildlife preserve welcomes a second ‘amazing’ zedonk

Chestatee manager: A lucky accident

POSTED: August 16, 2011 2:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Chestatee Wildlife Preserves newest addition is another newborn Zedonk. Born early Sunday morning the foal keeps close to it's mother while staying in a patch os shade Monday morning.

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Although full moons have almost always signaled the arrival of baby animals at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve in Dahlonega, the latest addition has caught the staff off guard.

For the second year in a row, Sarah the donkey has given birth to a hybrid baby, a little zedonk.

"We knew that Sarah was pregnant because her sides had started to bow out, but we didn’t think she was having another zedonk," said C.W. Wathen, founder and general manager of the Dahlonega preserve where the zedonks were born.

"We were told it couldn’t happen the first time, so we didn’t think it would happen again. We were expecting a little baby donkey."

The new baby is the little sister to Pippi Z. Donk, a hybrid born at the preserve
last July to a donkey mother and zebra father.

Wathen says his animals have been allowed to mingle in the same fields for more than 40 years, but Pippi was the first evidence of the different breeds mating.

"There was an out-of-town veterinarian visiting here Sunday. He’d come because he’d heard about Pippi and wanted to see her. I told him he was here for one miracle, but he’d get to see another one because we had another little zedonk that was just born," Wathen said.

"He said that since the (zebra and donkey) chromosomes are so different, to get them to line up one time to make one (zedonk) was a lucky accident, but for it to happen again, that’s amazing."

Maybe even more amazing than this genetic lightening striking twice is the uncanny resemblance between Pippi and her little sister.

The baby has the same reddish-brown coat that Pippi had when she was first born and the same spindly legs.

"She’s got the same stripes and markings on her face, legs and down her back," Wathen said.

"When (my daughter) Bella saw her, she said, ‘What happened to Pippi?’ and puckered her mouth up, as if we’d
shrunk Pippi."

The latest zedonk resident may not have a name yet — Wathen is hoping local school children will offer up ideas — but she’s already showing the same spunk as her big sister.

"She’s already up, running around and playing," Wathen said.

"She’s probably about 60 to 65 pounds. We’ll give her a good week or so, and then we’ll get her out there with the halter, just like we did with Pippi.

"Pippi’s halter-broken now. She has turned out to be a beautiful young lady and she’s so good natured. We hope this other one is the same way."

Although they look and act so much alike already, Wathen says the two zedonks haven’t been formally introduced.

"She’s seen her little sister through the fence, but we haven’t brought the baby over to meet Pippi yet. We’ll give the baby and mama privacy to settle down, then we’ll bring them together."

Looking at Pippi’s little sister is probably the only representation of what her offspring would look like, since many hybrid animals are sterile and unable to reproduce.

"She’s got a twin now, but no one can take her place," Wathen said.

"Pippi will always be No. 1, but we can’t believe this happened twice."



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