24 Amazing Facts About Donkeys You Probably Never Knew

Donkeys have always been considered more modest animals than horses. For many centuries, only noble people were allowed to ride horses, but everyone else got only their modest relatives, known for their stubbornness. But do not underestimate them – they certainly have stubbornness, but they are no less famous for their endurance, hard work, and high level of intelligence.

  • As scientists have established, donkeys were widely used as farm animals for more than 5,000 years, until they were gradually replaced by horses.
  • The total number of domestic donkeys in different countries is estimated at about 40 million. Now, this animal has lost its agricultural value, but in some countries, especially in Africa, it is still in demand.
  • The domestication of wild donkeys appears to have taken place even earlier than the domestication of horses. Most likely, they were tamed for the first time on the territory of modern Egypt.
  • In ancient times, the donkey was highly respected. Then horses were not yet domesticated, and donkeys did all their work – they carried various loads and plowed fields.
  • In oriental tales, respect for this interesting animal often slips, which always acts as a cautious and prudent hero.
  • The image of the famous donkey was created by the French philosopher Jean Buridan in the XIV century. He studied free will as such, and once wrote: “If a donkey is placed between two absolutely identical heaps of hay, then he will not be able to choose which one he has, because they are the same, and in the end, he will die of hunger.” Today “Buridan’s donkey” is called an indecisive person who cannot make a choice. In fact, this comparison has nothing to do with the real behavior of animals.
  • There is a beautiful and very rare cross between a male donkey and a female pony called “donkra”. But such offspring are rarely born, and they are always sterile.
  • Up to 1.5 million feral donkeys live in Australia. More precisely, it was inhabited – a monstrous fire at the turn of 2019-2020 caused enormous damage to the flora and fauna of this entire continent.
  • A donkey and donkeys are one and the same. A domesticated breed is usually called donkeys, but this name is not applicable to wild individuals.
  • The ancestors of modern domestic donkeys appeared in Africa, and in some countries, their wild relatives live there today. In Asia, there are kulans related to them, but they do not lend themselves to domestication.
  • Currently, there are two subspecies of the wild donkey, which are found in Somalia, northern Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Red Sea coast. True, in Somalia, almost all animals have already been exterminated by poachers.
  • There is a small zoo in the Palestinian city of Gaza, where almost all the animals were brought illegally through a tunnel on the border with Egypt. In 2009, due to a military conflict with Israel, the zoo was badly damaged, and two zebras died from malnutrition. Lacking the money and the opportunity to import new zebras, the employees put up a pair of donkeys painted with black stripes as them.
  • The dog waltz is called differently in different countries. In Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands – flea waltz. In Bulgaria – the cat march, and in Finland – the cat polka. In Hungary, it is called the donkey march.
  • The wild donkey is a poorly studied animal. He lives in deserts and semi-deserts, family herds, like zebras. The leader of the family group is an old donkey, which includes up to 10 donkeys and young animals. Herds wander long distances in search of water and food, but they always behave extremely cautiously.
  • Pregnancy in these animals lasts longer than in humans, 12 to 14 months.
  • Humans have long discovered that donkeys can successfully interbreed with horses. The result of this union is called a mule and is prized for its endurance. True, mules are always sterile.
  • In ancient Egypt, the number of donkeys on a farm was an indicator of social status. Representatives of the nobility often owned more than a thousand heads.
  • Donkey milk was used as a cosmetic product in ancient times. It was also eaten on a par with sheep or camel.
  • In captivity, wild donkeys rarely live more than 20-25 years. Although their domestic relatives can live for half a century, or even more.
  • Wild African donkeys live in regions with rather extreme climates, so they practically have no natural enemies. Previously, lions hunted them, but now the habitats of these animals do not intersect.
  • Donkeys are not actually stubborn. They just have an extremely well-developed instinct for self-preservation, and it is almost impossible to force them to do what they do not want.
  • These animals are known for their dissonant voices. But they differ in loudness, a donkey cry can be heard at a distance of up to 2-3 kilometers.
  • In ancient Egypt, a certain number of donkeys were buried along with pharaohs and simply noble people. Their remains were discovered at burial sites by archaeologists.
  • There are currently less than 1000 wild African donkeys in the world. Precisely the wild, not the feral descendants of the domesticated! In order to save the species, the animal began to be bred in zoos. In the wild, this species may soon disappear, as its representatives readily interbreed with common domestic donkeys.
Alice White

Written by Alice White

Alice White, a devoted pet lover and writer, has turned her boundless affection for animals into a fulfilling career. Originally dreaming of wildlife, her limited scientific background led her to specialize in animal literature. Now she happily spends her days researching and writing about various creatures, living her dream.

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