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May 9, 2010 / V A Nichols

Bessemer Family Makes Rug From Pet Zebra

Bessemer family has pets of all stripes

By Jeremy Gray — The Birmingham News

May 08, 2010, 6:30AM

Wait a minute … was that a zebra?

It’s a common reaction when drivers pass the fenced pasture a few miles from McAdory High School and see a zebra and what looks like a donkey with zebra stripes frolicking alongside horses.

Dr. Cynthia Hobdy, a Bessemer podiatrist, and her husband, David Hobdy Jr., a lawyer running unopposed for a Bessemer Cutoff judicial seat, are used to people stopping and snapping pictures.

Having owned zebras for nearly 10 years and a zonkey — the offspring of a donkey and zebra — for two years, the couple and their two children, David III, 11, and Alecia, 8, see little difference between the exotic creatures and their other pets.

The Hobdys live in an unincorporated area of Jefferson County where livestock is allowed.

The zebra and zonkey don’t require special treatment, David Hobdy Jr. said. “They run with my horses,” he said. “I’ve been treating them like horses. Nothing different.”

“The hardest thing is giving them a bath,” Cynthia Hobdy said. “They don’t like it and they are powerful.”

The family got their first zebra, Amy, when it was 2 weeks old, shortly after Alecia was born, Cynthia Hobdy said. “Santa Claus brought her,” Cynthia Hobdy quickly answers when asked about its origins with Alecia by her side.

“I had my daughter on a bottle and I was bottle-feeding a zebra too,” she recalled.

Growing up with the children, Amy craved attention. “She liked to cuddle,” Alecia said.

“The kids sat on her back and I would lead her around,” David Hobdy Jr. said.

The family was devastated when they came home from a trip in November 2008 to find Amy sick on the ground, Cynthia Hobdy said.

“We called every vet in the book,” Cynthia Hobdy said. “They all thought it was a joke.”

After almost eight years as a member of the Hobdy family, Amy died. “That was a sad day,” Alecia Hobdy said.

Amy is gone but not forgotten — she’s now a rug in the family’s home. “We couldn’t let her go even after she died,” Cynthia Hobdy said.

A zebra-skin rug isn’t the only reminder of Amy.

Amy mated with a donkey named Stripe that David Hobdy III said he bought from his grandfather for a dollar. The result was a zonkey named Milkshake.

“I had a donkey that fell in love with my zebra,” David Hobdy Jr. said.

It wasn’t an easy relationship at first, Cynthia Hobdy said of Amy and Stripe’s courtship. “It took them three or four years to get married.” Once they did, they were bonded for life, she said.

Stripe now lives at a family farm in Louisiana, David Hobdy Jr. said.

Milkshake, born Easter Sunday 2008, is shy, stubborn, and — as a result of its parentage — sterile, Cynthia Hobdy said. “I call him my ‘lil ugly’,” David III said.

After Amy’s death, Milkshake wasn’t the only striped animal in the pen for very long. It was around Alecia’s birthday in August 2009 when the family purchased Zack, a full-grown male zebra, from a man in Jasper, David Hobdy Jr. said.

Cynthia Hobdy said she would advise people to buy a baby zebra rather than a grown one. Zack doesn’t have Amy’s sweet temperament, the kids say.

“He’s a demon,” Alecia hollered when asked to describe the new zebra.

At first, Zack wasn’t too sure about his new home either.

The first night they had Zack, a Sunday, he got out of the fence. The family found Zack and slowly led him back home, Cynthia Hobdy said.

“He got a police escort back and held up traffic to Loveless Park (Baptist Church) and every other church out here,” she said.

“He’s growing on us, but he’s not very friendly,” Cynthia Hobdy said.

E-mail: jgray@bhamnews.com

(emphasis added-Ed)

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One Comment

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  1. Victoria Nichols / May 9 2010 1:01 AM

    This family is a little too utilitarian in their approach to their pet zebras, in my opinion.

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