A zoo in Cairo is being accused of painting donkeys with stripes so that they resemble zebras after a visitor snapped a picture of what looks like a fake zebra. However, the Egyptian zoo is refuting the claim.
Egyptian student, Mahmoud Sarhan, 18, posted a picture from his visit to Cairo’s International Garden municipal park to Facebook that contained what he claimed was a donkey painted to look like a zebra. In the post, he said that both animals within the enclosure at the zoo looked like fake zebras.
And, judging by the picture, online animal experts sided with Mahmoud, according to CBS News. An expert vet also insisted that zebras have black snouts and their stripes are much more consistent and parallel than the ones shown in the image snapped by Mahmoud Sarhan.
Alex Adams, a wildlife biologist and researcher at Colorado State University, also weighed into the debate.
“The stripes (on a zebra) are always defined, never smudged, and zebras can be small but never that small,” Adams explained to the Independent.
“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.”
However, as BBC News reports, the zoo’s director, Mohamed Sultan, has since gone on record with the local radio station Nogoum FM to say that the animals are not fakes.
“The zebra is real and not painted,” Mohammed Sultan said, according to the Huffington Post.
For those who are horrified that, in this day and age, zoos might try to fool visitors with fake animals, this is not the first time something like this has happened.
In fact, a zoo in Gaza had a go at creating fake zebras in 2009 by painting donkeys. However, the zoo insisted they had a legitimate reason for doing this. Thanks to an Israeli blockade, the zoo was unable to obtain real zebras and resorted to fakes ones instead, according to CBS News.
“The first time we used paint but it didn’t look good,” the zoo’s proprietor said at the time. “The children don’t know, so they call them zebras and they are happy to see something new.”
In 2013, a Chinese zoo also took the fake route when it tried to pass off a large dog for a lion. This fake did not go down well with visitors.
“The zoo is absolutely trying to cheat us,” one visitor reportedly told Chinese media. “They are trying to disguise dogs as lions.”
While not a zoo, in Italy in 2014, a circus tried to convince patrons that they had a rare breed of Chinese bears. What they really had were Chow Chow dogs, according to The Independent.
If the zebras in the Cairo zoo are fake, no explanation has been given at this point as to why the zoo would choose to fool their visitors.