A zorse, zonkey or hebra sound like creatures in a Dr. Seuss book, but they are real animals. A zorse is a cross between a zebra stallion and a horse mare. The zorse takes the color or dominant color gene of the mare and the zebra sire gives it stripes. A hebra is a cross between a zebra mare and a horse stallion, the rarest. Horse stallions as a rule do not like to breed zebra mares. Zebra stallions usually must be raised in a special environment to breed horse mares.
A Zonkey is a cross between a zebra stallion and a donkey jennet. The zonkey takes the color or dominant color gene of the jennet, and the zebra sire gives it stripes. The zonkey is generally more easily bred for than the zorse as the donkey and zebra both communicate behaviorally using very similar language, whereas the horse language is somewhat different than the zebras.
What Can a Zorse or Zonkey Do?
A zorse and zonkey can be trained to do all the things a mule, donkey or horse can be trained to do, including trail riding, jumping, driving, and western or English riding. You can show your zorse or zonkey at many open horse shows. A limited number of shows even have zorse and zonkey classes. A few mule and donkey shows are gradually increasing their classes to include the zebra/donkey hybrid, zebra/horse hybrid classes.
How They are Different
The attitude, smarts, and personality of a zorse and a zonkey are like that of a mule or donkey. If you know how to train a mule or donkey, you know how to train a zorse or zonkey. A zorse and a zonkey have a longer flight/fight range, meaning they are more cautious in general than a horse or donkey, and will run away from perceived danger more abruptly than a horse or donkey will.
When cornered and stressed, they will defend themselves more abruptly than a horse or donkey will. They are a prey animal, like the horse, but their instinctive prey behaviors are sharper than that of most horses, making them comparable to wild mustangs. However, once trained, mustangs are just like regular horses, where zorses and zonkeys are still half zebra. After several generations of human contact, the horse mares relay a more relaxed prey/predator reaction around humans to their offspring. As zorses and zonkeys currently are normally first generation domestic on the zebra side, they display a more defensive instinct than a horse or donkey baby would. However, with proper imprinting right from birth, a zorse or zonkey baby can appear much like any horse/mule/donkey foal very quickly.