It has to be the ultimate zebra crossing. Eclyse the zorse – or zebroid – is striking proof of how an offspring inherits genes from both parents – which in her case was a male zebra and a female horse.
The result is shown in her amazing coat which looks like a zebra’s that has been partly covered in white paint.
While most zebra-horse crossbreeds have stripes across their entire body, Eclyse has only two such patches, on her face and rump.
The 1-year-old was born after her mother, Eclipse, was taken from her German safari park home to visit a ranch in Italy.
There she was left to roam freely with other horses and a number of zebras. One zebra called Ulysses took a shine to her and there was some horseplay.
When she arrived home to Germany, Eclyse’s mother surprised her keepers by giving birth to a baby zorse.
Eclyse has become a major attraction at her home safari park at , near the German border with Holland.
In Africa, horses and zebras are often crossbred and used as trekking animals. Hybrids are an interesting curiosity. The mule is perhaps the most famous cross – a combination between a horse and a donkey – and an animal of economic importance because it is a hard worker.
Hybrids are not easy to create, however. The mating pair’s different number of chromosomes – the “packets” of DNA in each cell – makes a pregnancy hard to achieve.
A horse has 64 chromosomes; the zebra has 44. The zorse that results from cross-breeding will have a number of chromosomes that is somewhere in between.
The zorse can only result where the sire is the zebra. “The smaller number of chromosomes has to be on the male side,” said Lesley Barwise-Munro, a veterinary surgeon in Alnwick, Northumberland, and a spokeswoman for the British Equine Veterinary Association.
“If it had been the other way around there would have been no pregnancy. It’s how nature works.
“And hybrids were invariably sterile,” she added.