Snow White just might be a ‘sport’

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 30, 2000

Features Editor

On a hot, sultry Sunday two weeks ago, "snow" came to John Byron Thompson’s farm.

The news spread like wildfire and, in just a short time, people were streaming in to see this rare occurrence.

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At first, Snow White’s knees were a little shaky but soon he was wobbling proudly and seemed to gain strength from the ooohs and ahhhs of his many admirers.

Thompson stood aside like any proud papa and let his little one take center stage but, secretly, he was just as amazed as everyone else at the snow white donkey.

"I’ve never seen anything like it," he said. "I’ve seen spotted donkeys but I’ve never seen one that is as white as snow from head to tail."

Snow White’s mother Ginger is as black as night and his father is a registered brown and white spotted donkey.

"I was kind of hoping for a spotted donkey but I never even thought about I might get a solid white one," Thompson said. "It’s rare as far as I know."

Some of the visitors to the "nursery" maintained that Snow White is an albino but Thompson doesn’t agree.

"He’s got white hooves, too, but his eyes are dark and I just don’t think he’s an albino," Thompson said. "But, if he is, he sure is pretty."

Dr. Doug Hawkins agreed with Thompson.

"If he doesn’t have pink eyes, he’s not an albino," Hawkins said. "An albino has a look about its eyes that you can’t really explain but you know it when you see it."

Hawkins said there is a possibility that Snow White is a "sport."

"A sport is an animal that doesn’t have the characteristics of its mother and father," he explained. "If the donkey is a sport, he will breed true. That means that he will have offsprings that are white like he is. If he’s not a sport, then he’ll breed back to his mother and father’s traits."

Hawkins said a white donkey is a rarity. "I’ve never seen one."

So, Thompson will have to wait and see if his donkey is just the result of quirky genes or if he’s a true sport.

But that doesn’t really matter to Thompson. He has no plans to put Snow White in the circus or on animal television. He just wants to enjoy him like he does his other donkeys.

"I’ve always liked donkeys," Thompson said. "This one is kind of special because he’s so different. He’s a pretty sight against the green grass and he stands out from the others. I hope I can make a pet out of him but right now he’s a bit skiddish."

To add to the oddity of Snow White, his father, the brown and white spotted donkey, fathered a jenny colt a week later. She is as black as Snow is white.

"That’s as strange as strange can be," Thompson said. "I bred two donkeys to the same jack and one had a snow white colt and the other one had a colt that’s as black as smut."

Thompson can’t figure it all out so he’s not even trying. Every afternoon, he walks down to the barn, leans against a post and watches Snow White and Midnight run and play.

"You don’t have to understand things to get pleasure from them and I sure am enjoying these donkeys," Thompson said.