After images shared on Facebook by Mahmoud Sarhan went viral, a zoo became the subject of ridicule for a pair of “zebras” that actually appeared to be two painted donkeys. Not only did Sarhan share this sentiment, but a variety of online animal experts as well. However, the zoo director claims they are real.
Sarhan, an Egyptian student, was visiting the International Garden municipal park in Cairo when he came upon what he believed was a pair of donkeys that were painted to resemble zebras.
Along with the pictured animals’ fairly small size and pointy ears, the stripes also appeared to be smeared.
“When we approached the zebra we realized that the lines were clearly painted, the paint was smudgy, and his hair was nothing like that of a zebra,” said Sarhan, according to a report by ABC News. “It was a normal Egyptian donkey that you see everywhere.”
Sarhan shared his discovery on Facebook, saying in a post, “Stupidity in our country has reached a level that they are now painting over a donkey to make it look like a Zebra.”
“They are so stupid they forgot to paint another layer and so it smudged on the donkey’s face,” he added.
One vet who chimed in on the matter stated that the snout of a zebra is black and that the stripes would be more consistent and parallel, unlike what is seen in the image.
Alex Adams, a wildlife biologist, expressed the same sentiment, saying, “The ears are rounded, not oblong and pointy, and of course zebras have black skin, answering that age-old question of them being black with white stripes.”
The zoo is insisting that the zebras are real and not painted donkeys.
“The zebra is real, not a local donkey, and not painted,” said Maj. Gen. Mohamed Sultan, who oversees Cairo zoos. He also stated that the animals are looked after properly as well as regularly inspected to ensure their well-being.
This is not the first attempt by a zoo to fool visitors into believing painted donkeys were actually zebras. In 2009, a Gaza zoo did the same thing, later claiming they choose to paint the donkeys because they could not acquire real zebras due to an Israeli blockade.