Zeyore the zonkey survives second round of America’s Favorite Pet competition
It’s two rounds down and three more to go, but so far, Zeyore the zonkey is not only still standing but remains in first place as America’s Favorite Pet.
“He made it through,” Zeyore’s owner, Linda Marchi, told the News-Press referring to Thursday’s second round. “He’s Number One. We’re pretty excited.”
Zeyore, a cross between a zebra and donkey, was entered into the contest for America’s Favorite Pet by Gia Chavez, a 15-year-old weekend volunteer at Ms. Marchi’s Seein’ Spots farm in Ballard, and the teen’s mother, Caryn.
“They asked for unique pets, and Zeyore was the most unique pet they knew,” Ms. Marchi said. She and her husband, Brett, have 150 animals at Seein’ Spots, an animal rescue sanctuary two miles from Solvang, “and he is by far the most unique.”
But just in case he wasn’t accepted into the contest, Gia and her mom didn’t tell the Marchis because they didn’t want them to be disappointed.
“It was a surprise,” she said. “They didn’t want to tell me until he made it.
“And he keeps winning, too.”
Round 3 of the contest is Thursday, while Round 4 is Sept. 22. A wild card round will be held Oct. 2 in which all the second-place winners from previous rounds compete against each other to make it to the final round, set for Oct. 27, she said.
Bragging rights are not the only thing that’s at stake because the ultimate winner not only gets a two-page spread in In Touch magazine but $10,000.
And the Marchis can use the money.
“It will help our little farm,” she said. “We pay for everything on our own by doing tours,” and the price of food has gone up. The money also would help them make repairs and add more fencing, “things like that.”
The Marchis, who founded Seein’ Spots in 2005, have owned Zeyore for 10 years after rescuing him from a petting zoo where he grew too big and strong to care for. “They couldn’t handle him” and called the Marchis to take him in as a rescue. After sending him to Colorado for training, they brought him to Seein’ Spots where they continued to train him. And it’s been worth every minute.
She laughed when she noted that he absolutely loves to eat carrots.
“He begs for them and he likes to show his teeth when he begs.” He also loves to lick the person who feeds him.
“Many, many people” take pictures of Zeyore when they tour Seein’ Spots during the week (by appointment only) or when the farm opens to the public on Saturday (11 a.m.-3 p.m. when the Marchis have volunteers to help lead the tours).
As a zonkey, Zeyore has the exotic stripes of a zebra all over his body but he’s bigger and stronger than the typical wild zebra, and unlike zebras, which are black and white, Zeyor is tan and black and has bigger ears, Ms. Marchi said.
“He’s just a handsome guy who loves attention,” she said. “He loves people and comes running when they come to see him. It’s like having an exotic animal that’s a little more friendly.”
And unlike a horse that whinnies, a donkey that brays or a zebra that makes a high-pitched noise, Zeyor makes cries that sound like a trumpet when he runs to greet his visitors.
She believes Zeyore has more than a good chance of emerging from the contest as America’s favorite pet. Among his competition are a mere ferret, chicken, chameleon and chinchilla.
So what’s in it for him if he wins? More carrots? Not quite, Ms. Marchi said. “We keep him on a bit of a diet.
“But he would get some special treatment,” perhaps some new trees in his pasture, because he loves the shade. And because he deserves it.
“He is kind of special, just a sweet guy for a zonkey.”
Seein’ Spots has plenty of rescue animals for people to visit besides Zeyore, including horses, donkeys, cows, goats, pigs, sheep, a tortoise, all kinds of birds, and, of course, cats and dogs. They charge $10 per person.
Anyone interested in visiting Seein’ Spots can email them at Linda@seeinspotsfarm.com or call or text them at 805-688-2275.