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Mule gives birth

Much to the surprise of villagers in Dorikha, Haa, a golden yellow mule gave birth to a black foal on 7 June 2005.

Farms in Haa
Villagers were amazed and the news quickly spread across the neighbouring villages. "I wondered what all the fuss was about?" said a 25-year old woman when she heard about the unusual incident. "Only later did I come to know that the mules are supposed to be sterile."

Scientifically, of course, mules are sterile. While the phenomenon is well known among most elderly Bhutanese it was a discovery for the younger ones.

Mule in Haa: Two days after her birth
Mules are hybrid of male donkeys crossed with female horses and are sterile. When a male horse is crossed with a female donkey the offspring is called a Hinny. But, in Bhutan a general term drel is used for the offspring regardless of the sex of the parents as long as one is horse and the other a donkey.

"Mules are more like fifty-fifty of horse and donkey," said Dr. Tashi Samdrup of the livestock department in Thimphu. "While the mules are characterised by long ears, narrow body and small hooves of the donkey, speed and muscles are those of the horse, while the head and voice are a blend of parent feature."

The livestock officer in Haa, Jigme Wangchuk, said that such incidents rarely happened in Bhutan. "But it does happen occasionally in other countries."

Dr. Tashi Samdrup said that female mules were more fertile than the males but a mule giving birth was rare. "It is considered an abnormality," he said. "Book on mules say that it is impossible. Investigation done in some countries, however, found out that the mules turned out to be donkeys in reality. The chromosomes were found out to be that of donkeys."

Meanwhile, it is not known whether the Dorikha mule had mated with a donkey, a horse or a mule as it was let loose out in the open most of the time.

Contributd by Kinley Wangmo, Kuensel , Bhutan's national newspaper, 2005
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