This equid with distinctive markings is a zorse — the hybrid offspring of a female zebra and a male horse.
Eclyse (Ek LEE za) is the latest addition to the German safari park, Schloss Holte Stukenbrock. Eclyse is also special as zorses, or zebroids as they are also known, are typically the product of a horse mare that has bred with a zebra stallion. Her mother, on the other hand, was a zebra.
Image: Reuters [larger]
The creature pictured above is a one-year-old zorse — a hybrid between a female Chapmann’s zebra and a male horse, and what you see in that image are her natural markings. Instead of being striped all over, as most zebra-horse hybrids are, this animal is primarily white with bold striped patches, one on her head and the other on her left hind quarters, making her look like she was sewn together using parts from either a zebra or a horse, a la Frankenstein’s monster.
Additionally, this hybrid is unusual because most zorses are the product of a female horse and a male zebra.
Nevertheless, Eclyse was an accident. Her mother, Eclipse, was visiting a ranch in Italy where she ranged freely with a number of horses and zebras. One horse, Ulysses, spent a lot of time with Eclipse and surprisingly, ended up becoming her father.
Before she returned to her safari park home, Eclipse surprised her keepers by giving birth to a peculiarly-marked horse-zebra foal. The foal, a female, whose very appearance is a testament to her mixed parentage, was given a name that is a combination of her parents’ names, Eclyse (ek LEE za).
Not only do Eclyse’s markings reflect her unusual parentage, but her personality does, also.
“You can tell she is a mix just by looking at her. But in temperament she can also exhibit characteristics from each parent,” observed Udo Richter, spokesman for the park. “She is usually relatively tame like a horse but occasionally shows the fiery temperament of a zebra, leaping around like one.”
Eclyse is a major attraction at the safari park at Schloss Holte Stukenbrock, near the German border with Holland, where she recently arrived from Italy. The safari park has given Eclyse with her own enclosure and plans to provide her with a male horse as a companion.
“She’ll get a boyfriend, as we hope it might be possible to cross-breed again, but also so she doesn’t have to stand here alone,” said park veterinarian, Heiner Vorbohle.
Despite the veterinarian’s hopes, it is highly unlikely that Eclyse would be capable of breeding successfully because she is a hybrid. A horse has 64 chromosomes, whereas a zebra has only 44. Due to the resulting lack of chromosomal pairing, Eclyse is very likely to be sterile, just as other hybrid horses, such as mules, are.
Horses and zebras are often hybridized in Africa for use as pack animals on Mount Kenya.
ITV News (quotes)