Egyptian student Mahmoud Sarhan posted this picture of him standing in front of a donkey painted with zebra stripes on his Facebook page.

London - Sadly for donkeys, they aren’t the most exotic of zoo attractions.

So this one must have been puzzled with his newfound popularity when zookeepers apparently tried to disguise him as a zebra – by painting him black and white.

Initially, visitors to the zoo in Cairo thought the zebra simply had unusual markings. But the ruse was uncovered after its stripes began to melt. Mahmoud Sarhan, 18, exposed the trick when he posted this photo online.

The International Garden zoo denied the animal is a fake. But Mr Sarhan said: ‘I realised from the first look that it was a painted donkey. People might realise that from the stripes.’

Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the first incident of its kind. In 2009 a zoo in Palestine reportedly painted two donkeys to replace zebras that had died.