Equus africanus asinus•
Donkeys are large mammals, belonging to the family Equidae. These animals originate the African wild ass. During the last 5,000 years, they have been commonly used as important working animals. The global population of donkeys estimates as much as 40,000 individuals, the majority of which are found in underdeveloped countries, being used as draught or pack animals, typically by people who live at or below subsistence level. In developed states, donkeys are sometimes kept as pets. Additionally, some individuals of this species are kept to be bred.
Domesticated individuals of this species occur around the globe. However, true wild donkeys can be found only in northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. These animals are known to favor warm and dry climatic conditions, in which feral donkeys typically live.
Habits and lifestyle
They are highly social creatures, eagerly associating with both conspecifics and other livestock animals, including horses, cows, goats, sheep and llamas. Periods of increased activity occur in the morning and evening, while the midday hours are typically spent resting. Donkeys are extremely cautious by nature, due to which they will avoid doing anything that seems to be dangerous. For example, when alarmed, they usually freeze or run. When the danger has passed, donkeys try to find the source of the threat. As a result, they got a reputation of stubborn animals, although they are actually quite obedient, hard-working creatures. Normally quiet and peaceful, they fiercely defend their foals when needed. Moreover, donkeys are sometimes trained to protect other domestic livestock such as sheep and goats. When under threat, they show remarkable degree of aggression, occaisonally attacking and trampling large dogs and humans.
herd, coffle, drove, pace
Diet and nutrition
Donkeys generally maintain an herbivorous diet. These grazing mammals primarily rely on grass, occasionally using shrubs and desert plants.
Donkeys are polygynous, which means that one male mates with many females during a breeding season. Breeding occurs year-round. The gestation period usually lasts for 11-14 months, after which a single foal is born. Newborn babies are developed and are able to stand and feed during the first 30 minutes of their lives. Weaning occurs at 5 months old. Both males and females of this species are ready to mate at 2 years old, although males usually do so only after 3 - 4 years old, when they become dominant.
As stated by the Wikipedia resource, the global population of these animals estimated as much as 41 million individuals in 2006, 11 million of which lived in China (the largest population of this species by country). Other states with large numbers of donkey population are Pakistan, Ethiopia and Mexico.
Over thousands of years, donkeys have been important working animals in various parts of world. They are still very important livestock species in many countries. These animals originate from the Wild asses. They first appeared during the predynastic period, as early as 6,000 years ago in ancient Egypt, north-eastern Africa. The overall population of donkeys is currently increasing, whereas numbers of the African wild ass and the related onager are decreasing. These three species have long served humans as beasts of burden and companions.
Fun facts for kids
- Donkeys are known to have an amazingly relaxing effect on other animals, due to which they are commonly used as companions for weaned foals. They also associate with alarmed, injured or recovering animals, soothing them and helping reduce stress.
- Moreover, they serve as companions for mentally and physically limited children, participating in various recreational riding programs. Their positive effect on both animals and humans is explained by their affectionate, calm and patient nature.
- Donkeys occasionally interbreed with other species such as horses or zebras, yielding sterile offspring. The hybrid of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare) is known as "mule". Young from a female donkey (jenny) and a male horse (stallion) are called "hinnies", whereas offspring, produced by a zebra and a donkey, are called "zebrasses" or a "zonkeys".
- The first individuals of this species, born in the U.S., belonged to George Washington.
- Donkeys love spending their time rolling.
- Donkeys are thought to be rather stubborn creatures, which is not exactly true. They are, in fact, very cautious by nature. However, if their owner has gained their trust, they prove to be highly loyal workers, companions and even friends.