Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 16, 2012

Zonkey at Black Beauty

9-year-old cross between donkey and zebra now at famed Murchison ranch

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison has a new resident. Ziggy is  a 9-year-old zonkey, a cross between a donkey and a zebra. The ranch will become Ziggy's permanent home.

Ziggy was brought to his new home from the Animal Refuge Kingdom in Cleburne. Ziggy is currently in quarantine at the Black Beauty Ranch. Ben Callison, Director said “We will leave Ziggy in quarantine for about two weeks, have the vet check him out. If everything is okay, he will be released into the pasture with the other donkeys.  The hope is that Ziggy bonds with the donkey herd.”

The ranch currently houses about 300 donkeys.

According to a press release provided to the Review,  Ziggy had been abandoned when animal Refuge Kingdom, a non-profit center that is both a sanctuary for abused animals and a therapeutic center for special needs children and adults, rescued the animal.

The center realized that Ziggy's energy level as a wild animal required more space than they could provide. Animal Refuge Kingdom reached out to the staff at Black Beauty Ranch, asking for their help in providing Ziggy with a life better-suited to his zebra DNA.

Black Beauty Ranch is the nation’s largest and most diverse animal sanctuary. The sanctuary has over 1,250 acres that is owned and operated by The Fund for Animals in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States, and is home to more than 1,000 animals and 42 species rescued from cruelty and abuse. 

The ranch is the home to a zony named Gunter. Gunter is a cross between a zebra and a pony. The hope is that Ziggy, like Gunter, will survive in sanctuary life.

The ranch is currently in the process of building a chimp tower in the monkey sanctuary, and construction on a new veterinarian hospital will be underway soon. Twice a year, the ranch hosts an open house that is open to the public for tours. Callison hopes to open the sanctuary for more tours and open houses in the future.

Callison warns that owning a hybrid animal is not as easy as it sounds.

“These animals sound appealing, but they are wild, and can be dangerous. People should not buy exotic animals,” he said.