1984 - Volume #8, Issue #5, Page #17[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Nebraska Mule Makes History
The Sylvesters were as surprised as anyone.
Because "everyone" knows that mules do not reproduce, you can imagine what Bill thought when he looked out in the pasture of mules to find what appeared to be a newborn colt. He told his son Kim they'd better head out to investigate.
Sure enough, there was Krause ù a two year old mule they had raised from birth ù with a perfectly normal mule colt. The colorings and markings were almost identical to her mother.
Because of the extreme "once in a Blue Moon" odds under which such a phenomenon occurs, the Sylvesters named the new arrival "Blue Moon".
The birth of a mule results from the breeding of a mare horse with a male donkey (jack).
Krause (Blue Moon's mother) was produced on the Sylvester farm. Her mother is a Welsh mare pony named Annie, and her father a jack named Chester. Chester is a prolific jack who also is the father of the newborn mule Blue Moon. The Sylvesters permitted Chester to run with the mules because the females were thought to be infertile.
When Blue Moon was born, the Sylvesters contacted Dr. Dave Johnsen, a local veterinarian, to have him vouch for the unusual birth. Within a short time, Dr. Kurt Benirschke, director of the Center for the Reproduction of Endangered Species at the San Diego Zoo, in California, was called to arrange for scientific testing and vertification. Dr. Johnsen was commissioned to take blood samples from Krause, the mother; Blue Moon, the foal; the grandmother, a Welsh pony mare (horse); and the father and grandfather, a jackass (male donkey).
A horse is supposed to have 64 chromosomes, a donkey 62; and a mule 63.
Blood samples and other "technical testing" have verified that Blue Moon is indeed the first scientifically verified mule colt foaled from a mulemolly. In mid-August, the Sylvesters received word from Dr. Benirschke with the big news: Krause is a true molly mule with 63 chromosomes and her new son Blue Moon is also a mule with 63 chromosomes. The father and grandfather is a verified jackass with 62 chromosomes, and the grandmother a true female horse with 64 chromosomes.
So what do you call the foal of a mule?
The cross of a male horse and a jenny (female donkey) is called a hinny. Therefore, the cross of a jackand mule could logically be called a jule. This would make Blue Moon a real "jule".
Scientists will be studying Blue Moon carefully to test his capacity to reproduce as he matures. And Krause will be observed closely for the remainder of her life. Will she continue to beat the odds by producing more foals, or was her amazing fete truly "once in a Blue Moon?"
(Reprinted with permission from The Imperial Republican, Imperial, Neb.)
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