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The Impostor; TV author Carla Lane recently claimed her pet goat had given birth to a lamb, but is such a phenomenon possible? Posing as a baffled West Country farmer with a few unusual hybrids, the Impostor decided to call Longleat Safari Park, in Wiltshire, for some advice on breeding problems of his own...

Keith Harris the manager speaking.

Mornin' to you, zir. Billy Ramsbottom, y'ere. I gatta bit of a prablem y'ere, zee.

How can I help?

Well, `tis like this, zee. I waz wonderin' if t'were passible, like, for a nanny goat to give birth to a laaamb.

We-e-ell, yes, but only if it has been implanted with an embryo from a ewe.

But why would anyone do thaaat, zir?

It's something scientists are looking into, to cut the stress out of moving animals to zoos all over the world. Instead of shipping the animal out, they just move the embryo.

Whaaat `appens to `im next, then?

I don't think it's been done yet, but they could take that zebra embryo and put it inside a donkey.

Well stripe a light! Do the zeebra start brayin' like a donkey do?

No, but as far as he's concerned the donkey is his mother.

But one's stripey and t'other's brown.

Mmm, but they're both equine creatures, so they're not that different.

I don't reckon me own donkey will agree with you there, zir.

The problem is that once you've taken the wildness out of him, you can't put the zebra back in the wild.

Zounds a bit like what `appened to me goat, Caprice. Ewe'll never believe it, but she's just birthed a lamb, zee.

Was it implanted or a cross-breed between a lamb and a sheep?

I don't know what that frisky young goat gets up to when me back's turned.

Yes, well, if she mated with a ram, this could be the result.

Zo what be the ramifications of this?

The offspring could come out looking more like a lamb or like a goat, but what you've just told me is unlikely.

That `orny old ram in the next field be the faather, I reckon.

Possibly. A few animals, if left to their own devices, will cross-breed.

Well, the last baby me goat birthed, an' all waz a calf!

That's not possible. The calf must have wandered in from the cowshed.

That's what I did think, till, come spring, she `ad a foal, an' all.

Umm, no, no, you must be mistaken there, I'm afraid.

I ain't foolin' you, zir. That foal even zounds like a goat, too.

Well, I think it must be a goat, then.

As me name be Billy "the old goat" Ramsbottom, t'ain't.

Ha-ha, yes, right, bye then.

Baaa-baaa, sheep well.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 17, 2000
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