If you go down to Eden Ostrich World, near Penrith in Cumbria from next Monday (2 July), you really will be sure of a big surprise.

Here, a rare foal with stripes – a cross between a zebra and a Shetland pony – can be seen frolicking around the paddock.

Tilly, the Shetland pony mare who gave birth just nine days ago, had only been with the centre for 11 months. Before that she was kept in a field at a local wildlife park with a male zebra.

Staff at the centre, who didn’t know Tilly was pregnant, say the new arrival has inherited her mother’s colouring and her father’s distinctive stripes.

The centre’s visitor attraction manager Karen Pete, says: “The foal looks unusual but very beautiful. She is a chocolatey chesnut colour with dark brown/black stripes.

“Her mane and tail are short but she already has long legs – she’s not far off the height of her mother. She probably looks more like a zebra, but if she didn’t have the stripes, she’d look like a pony.

“Tilly is very protective and they have bonded well. At first the foal was very timid and stayed close to her mother, but now she has started to frolic around the paddock.”

Staff say that they don’t know yet whether the foal will be able to breed, but she will be kept at the centre as an attraction.

The combination of pony and zebra, officially known as a zebrorse, is very rare but not unknown and there is believed to bea number of the breed in USA.

Eden Ostrich World at Langwathby Hall Farm, near Penrith, Cumbria opens on Monday 2 July. (tel: 01768 881771)