Do you know how the zebra got its stripes?
A rational answer might include something about natural selection and evolutionary processes. Or, if you’ve visited a zoo in Cairo, Egypt, lately, paint.
The International Garden municipal park has been accused of painting a donkey with black and white stripes, in order to trick visitors into thinking they’re seeing the real thing.
As CNN reports, the trick hasn’t worked out so well. Some zoo guests have noticed the black paint melting off in places around the animal’s head, while the rest of its body doesn’t exactly match up with what most people expect to see in a zebra, either.
Mahmoud Sarhan, 18, posted a photo of the animal to Facebook on July 21, along with the caption, “The stupidity has reached in the country that they brought a local donkey and painted it to look like a zebra.”
Since then, it’s been shared thousands of times, many commenters pointing out the obvious faults in the “artistry.”
Zebras and donkeys are distinctively different species. Zebras have black snouts and are typically larger than donkeys. Zebras are also not typically used for transporting cargo, while many shorter, squatter donkeys have been domesticated for such a purpose.
A zoo in Gaza was found painting donkeys to look like zebras in 2009, much to the chagrin of animal rights advocates, though the visiting children didn’t seem to mind.
Nidal Barghouthi, son of the Marah Land zoo owner, told Reuters that two female donkeys were “painted” with the help of some masking tape and women’s hair dye.
“The first time we used paint but it didn’t look good,” Barghouthi said. “The children don’t know so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new.”
Sarhan told news media that there were two donkeys in the pen at the International Garden zoo, both painted to look like zebras. Zoo officials dispute the claim, however.
“The zebra is real and not painted,” zoo director Mohammed Sultan told Egypt’s Youm 7 news channel.
Learn more about this bizarre beast in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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