By Alex Haglund
Rainbow Ranch suffered a heartbreaking loss on Thursday, June 21, when Zink the Zebra, a standard donkey that was renamed after a spotted in Zebra in a book, died after being struck by lightning.
The donkey that would one day become Zink, “came to us about 15 years ago as ‘Penny the Jenny’,” said Rainbow Ranch owner Alan Blumhorst.
After Penny spent about three years at the ranch, Blumhorst was approached by a girl scout leader who asked if they could do a “Zink the Zebra” Day.
“Zink the Zebra: A Special Tale” is a 1996 children’s book by Kelly Weil about a zebra that is different, that has spots instead of stripes – just like Penny’s spots – who learns that it’s ok to be different.
“We changed her name to Zink the Zebra for 250 girls scouts, my all-time record at Rainbow Ranch,” Blumhorst said. “Now for about 11 years, she’s been Zink.”
“It was just the best day,” Blumhorst said. “We taught them about tolerance and acceptance – That it’s ok to have spots instead of stripes.”
Zink lived in a penned pasture alongside Zeke, a striped zebra who Blumhorst said is besides himself since Zink’s death. When the lightning struck, “she was just on her little mountain,” said
Blumhorst, a small hill that Zink stood on to keep an eye on her surroundings.
She was such a sweet animal, Blumhorst said, that she must have had hundred, even thousands of kids pet on her in the more-than-10-years since she became Zink.
“I’d tell kids that she’s different,” Blumhorst continued, “and that it’s ok to be different. So that’s what I’ve been preaching and teaching to kids for the last ten years.”