I’m Fairly Sure There’s No Others In Dorset’: Bizarre Animal Mix Accidentally Created At Petting Zoo

By: Stephen Thompson | Last updated: Oct 03, 2023

In recent years, keepers of animals have experimented with the potential outcome of breeding different species, and there have been some exciting outcomes. You’ll find bizarre creatures like donkeys with the stripes of a zebra or animals known as ligers—a crossbreed of lions and tigers. 

In this case, however, a similarly unusual breed emerged recently known as Shalais. This new animal came about by the accidental mating of a Shetland ewe and a Valais ram. 

The Animal Equivalent of A One-Night Stand

Sandra Palmer-Snelling is the Director of a petting zoo in Dorset called ‘Farmer Palmer’s.’ She made us understand that Valais sheep are often kept as a pure breed for their versatility. For one, they are suitable for wool and meat; likewise, this Swiss breed would make a good pet for sheep lovers. 

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However, on a fateful day, a Shetland adult female sheep snuck into the enclosure of a Valais ram. It was only after an hour that personnel at the Farmer Palmer’s noticed the breach.

Enter Whoopsie and Daysie!

The one-hour encounter was more than enough to get the reproductive ball rolling. Despite the inception being accidental, the personnel at the facility nurtured the ewe until it gave birth to two crossbred lambs. 

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Since Valais are almost always kept as purebred, Shalais are very rare. In fact, Palmer-Snellin mentioned that the two lambs might even be the only sheep in all of Dorset to be Shalais. 

Why Did They Mate?

Palmer-Snellin believes that the peculiarities of springtime weather are responsible for spontaneous and uncontrollable heat in animals. They would later discover a compromise in the fence that separated the Shetland ewe and Valais ram. 

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The personnel monitored the ewe until they confirmed it was pregnant. Naturally, they expected the ewe to birth lambs with predominantly Shetland attributes. However, they got a shocker as the male and female lambs turned out to be a cross of the parent breeds. 

Climate Change and Cross Breeding

Similar to what happened with the Shetland and Valais sheep, researchers have established, based on findings from various studies, that climate change is causing a spontaneous crossing of breeds worldwide.

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For example, as the Arctic ice sheets continue to melt, previously isolated breeds mingle with other breeds, and the crossing occurs spontaneously.