Half-horse, half-zebra "unintentionally" bred at Manila Zoo; PETA urges zoo to stop breeding programs

24 Oras video: Hebra-naming contest launched

A female zebra gave birth to a "hebra," half-zebra and half-horse, at the Manila Zoo on August 11, reports Manila Bulletin. A Chapman zebra and a domesticated stallion were able to interbreed because they come from the same genus, equus, according to Manila Zoo veterinarian Dr. Marines Lagarto. However, the pairing is "extremely rare" because it is usually a male zebra and a female horse that mates, said Donald Manalastas, Zoological Division chief of Manila Zoo. Had it been the other way around, the offspring would’ve been identified as a "zorse."

Manila Bulletin reports that Manalastas said they are monitoring the hebra’s health though it "may look healthy and active now." He said two hebras previously born at the Manila Zoo did not live long because of genetic complications: the first died after three days and the second died as soon as it was born. The recently born hebra, whose name will be determined through a contest, is being fed cow’s milk with vitamins because his mother has been "shoving (him) off," Manalastas told Balitanghali.

Manila Zoo veterinarian Agerico Sebastian told Inquirer.net that the zoo did not intend for the zebra and horse to mate. "We lost our other zebras and she was the only one left... We didn’t want her to be lonely so we put her up with a domestic horse," Manalastas said. Meanwhile, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told Inquirer.net, "Hebras have been bred since the 19th century (so) it’s shocking to hear officials at Manila Zoo admit that they did not expect the horse and zebra to mate."

In a statement sent to Inquirer.net, PETA Asia Campaign Manager Rochelle Regodon urged Manila Zoo to "stop all breeding programs and to focus on helping the animals who need it." She added, " Profit-hungry zoo operators breed animals so that they will have an endless supply of ’cute babies’ in order to draw crowds and drive up profits... I hope people see that none of these animals deserve a life behind bars, and that everyone boycotts all zoos, including Manila Zoo."

For more on this story, log on to Manila Bulletin and Inquirer.net.

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