The original ‘beast of burden’, donkeys have been used by man for thousands of years and are even depicted in ancient cave paintings.

“As stubborn as a donkey” is a common phrase, but this reputation is very unfair. Donkeys simply have a highly developed sense of self-preservation and are resistant to anything they perceive as a danger.

Descended from the African wild ass, which is now only found in small numbers in Africa and the Middle East, the donkey is the smallest member of the equine family, which also includes horses, zebras and mules.

Donkeys are also known for their loud, distinctive ‘bray’ that can carry for over 3 kilometers – a vocalisation that allows the donkey to communicate with its herd when foraging over large distances in the desert.

Scientific name
Equus africanus asinus
Fast facts
The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5000 years.
There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world.
A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny or jennet.
Conservation status
Least concern
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