Zelda is one of only two in the world
by BETH ALTENA
Be prepared to see a very rare animal during children’s weekend of Harvest Fest, October 7-9, 2011. This year, Zelda the Zorse will be in town as a main attraction and will likely be the only chance many of us will have to see the cross between an endangered Grevy’s zebra dam and a Belgian draft horse sire.
Zelda was discovered by her current owners, Jerry and Cheryl Johnson, at a fundraiser held at the estate of a wealthy Michigan philanthropist, who had purchased her from breeders in Kentucky. The man was a collector of exotic animals and also had a miniature stallion, zebras and a camel. The Johnsons, horse people, were fascinated by the zebra-horse cross and researched extensively. They found there was only one other such animal known in existence and, when the philanthropist passed away, they were contacted by the animal keeper of the estate to see if they were interested in taking Zelda. They became Zelda’s owners on April 17, 2004.
Zelda, now age 14, is 16.2 hands high and described as a “gentle giant.” As a hybrid, she cannot have foals of her own, although occasionally hybrids are able to conceive. The remarkable animal is known to be caring of the horses and mules she shares living quarters with. She tends to be shy, so act calmly and quietly when visiting with her this fall.