Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Little Miracle Mule

    His name was bigger than he was.  And actually, he never should have been born in the first place.  When Winterhawk's Kule Mule Amos was born in 2007 he immediately gained both popular and scientific attention.  Mules just don't give birth to mules.

    His mother was Kate, a mule who belonged to Laura and Larry Amos, owners of an outfitting operation.  His father was a donkey.  Scientists at the University of California begged tor the baby and his mother, but Amos felt that they should be free to roam their Colorado home rather than be locked up in stalls at the university for the rest of their lives.

     The reason female mules rarely reproduce is because rather than having 65 chromosomes, female mules have 63 chromosomes, which cannot be split evenly to produce a fertile egg.  Somehow, Kate was able to overcome that and produce a viable egg.  Although genetic studies on Kate's genome were begun, money and lack of sample materials from Kate prevented studies which might have shed some light on this rare birth.

    Partly because of his rarity and partly because of his weak legs, Kule Mule was never used as a pack animal.  Nevertheless, people came from around the world to see the little wonder mule. 

    In 2010, Kule Mule slipped on ice in his pasture during a winter storm.  He was unable to get up and died of internal injuries.  His malformed back legs may have contributed to his inability to get back up.  He has not been forgotten, however.  When The Denver Post reprinted an article on social media sites, over 67,000 people clicked on the story in three days.  It looks like Kule Mule's story will live on for a very long time.