Bizarre Animals: Zebroid

A Zebroid at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club
Photo by Olliver: Public Domain

The zebroid is one of those creatures that happens rarely in the wild and happens sometimes with the help of people. It is a hybrid zebra that goes by several different names, depending on its parenthood, but essentially comes down to one thing, crossing a zebra with a horse, mule or donkey. The resulting creatures are quite bizarre and often beautiful.

In most cases, the fathers of zebroids are the zebras and the mothers are the horses, donkeys or mules. On occasion, the mother is the zebra, but this is far rarer. There have been some recorded instances of a zebroid producing offspring, resulting in another form of hybrid. However, zebroids are typically infertile or close enough to infertile that it is pointless trying to make them breed.

Zebroid characteristics depend on the characteristics of the non-zebra parents. In most cases, the animal has the stature of the non-zebra parent and has a touch of dwarfism. There are always stripes, though they are often not over the entire body and are sometimes only faint, depending on the animal's coloring. In some of these bizarre-looking zebroids, the animal looks, quite literally, like half a zebra. It may have several areas of very clear zebra markings or have them on approximately half of its body. This often happens when the zebroid is the offspring of a zebra and a horse.

Bizarre Art: Michael Cross' Bridge

The Michael Cross Bridge is a work of art that is also an amazing use of space and perception. Judging by Bridge, Michael Cross is clearly an artist who wants people to experience his work in an interactive way. It is a footbridge across a small body of water that gives the illusion that the person interacting with it is walking on water. There was something similar in the film "Labyrinth," but there is no Ludo traversing Michael Cross' Bridge and there is hopefully no stench arising from it.

According to Michael Cross' account of his inspiration for Bridge, its construction was more of a personal desire than anything else. He envisioned himself walking to or standing in the middle of a lake without getting wet and without anything around him but water. It may sound like a delusion of grandeur or that M. Cross aspires to be the mythical water walker himself. However, the reality is far less dramatic.

Michael Cross built his Bridge in the middle of Dilston Grove Church, which is currently an artist gallery. The water is contained in a roughly 24-inch deep tank in the middle of an aging room. While Bridge is in this makeshift tank, there is the illusion that the room is flooded. The eponymous bridge is a series of steps that rise from the water as a person walks across and sink back down once the step has been used. Because of this, the steps are not visible in front or behind you as you walk across.

This project is reportedly only the test. Michael Cross is planning to build an improved bridge in the future. For now, he is working on the kinks in the mechanisms that create his illusion. To see this amazing work of art, visit Michael Cross' website.

When the Jian River Ran Red

The Jian River, in and of itself, is not bizarre. It is just like any other river that flows on this planet. It is subject to pollution; it can change with the landscape and can also change due to weather. However, when the river turned red in December of 2011, it became like something out of hell. The color was not just red; it was a deep red reminiscent of blood. It understandably freaked out people who lived in its vicinity in Luoyang, China.

Authorities immediately began looking for the source of the problem. It was clearly not environmental. It turns out, it was red dye being dumped by two illegal factories in the city. Police raided the factories and shut them down when it became clear that the factories were indeed the problem. They were not dumping the dye directly into the river, but rather dumping them into the city's storm drain system, which, in turn, flows into the river. This was also illegal, but the factories themselves appeared to be running under the radar, as it was.

The river has apparently since returned to normal, though reports of it have tapered off since the original sensational story of the river turning blood red hit. Regardless, the images of a blood red Jian River will be remembered for a long time to come.

Click here for an image of the event.

The Peabody Hotel's Red Carpet

The Duck March at the Peabody Hotel
Photo by Mandy

The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee is home to a bizarre ritual that has been occurring there since 1932. The ritual takes place every morning at 11 a.m. and every afternoon at 5 p.m. This ritual involves five residents of the hotel that live in a penthouse on the roof known as the "Royal Duck Palace." These residents stroll out to the hotel's travertine marble fountain in the lobby on a red carpet amidst spectators and then stroll back to their palace, also along the red carpet, after having spent the day frolicking in the fountain. The red carpet V.I.D.'s are trained North American Mallards. Yes, ducks.

The practice of marching ducks out to the fountain of the Peabody Hotel began as something of a joke. The hotel's general manager and his friend thought it would be funny to put three ducks in the fountain. It turned out that the entertainment was a success. People enjoyed the novelty so much that the three were replaced by five North American Mallards and it has been five North American Mallards ever since.

Initially, there were just ducks in the fountain. Well, the word "just" does not really describe it, but that was the extent of it, nonetheless. That was, until the hotel got its first Duckmaster. Edward Pembroke was initially a bellman for the hotel. He was a former animal trainer and used this skill to get a more prestigious job as Duckmaster at the Peabody Hotel. He is the one who trained the animals to walk the red carpet until he retired. Several celebrities have been named "honorary Duckmasters." However, let's give credit where credit is due. None of these celebrities has trained multitudes of wild animals to behave in a crowded hotel.

The Peabody Hotel Ducks are not just five ducks that are replaced over the years. They only work for three months, after being raised on a farm. After the three months is up, they go back to the farm, where their novel skill as red carpet strutters becomes useless.