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Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Equus asinus

Baby donkey.jpg
picture of a young foal

The donkey is a species of equine known by the scientific name equus asinus. They are part of the horse family, but with stocky body shape and short legs, which it uses for defense against predators. The donkey also has a short nose and long ears which it uses to hear predators and different donkeys from long distances. The donkey is a grayish to light brown color with some pale white on its underside and the inside of its legs, and mane of hair running from the middle of its neck down to the beginning of its back. It also has a black stripe that runs down its back. The donkey can be found almost anywhere in the world, but mostly prefers a hilly grassland with a hot environment.

Body Design

Donkeys can come in many different sizes depending on their breed or upbringing. Their height can vary from either thirty-one to sixty-eight inches and can weigh from 180 to 1060 pounds. The average life span of a donkey is anywhere from thirty to fifty years in a good environment, but if it has a hard life and is used as a work donkey, its life can vary from twelve to fifteen years old. The donkey can vary in color from light shades of gray to deep shades of brown. The donkey is mostly known for its short thin legs attached to a thick bulky body, with a shortish tail.[1]

The donkey also uses a very loud call that can be heard from 2 to 3 miles away to keep in contact with the other donkeys. Donkeys have large, long ears which they to use to hear the calls of other donkeys and to hear predators. Donkeys can have a mane on the back of their neck and also have hooves on their feet like horses, which they use as weapons to fight off predators. The donkey also uses its head as a sort of hammer to hit its predators.[2]

Life Cycle

Once a male donkey becomes about two years of age it will mate with another donkey. After becoming pregnant a jennet,a female donkey, goes into heat within 9 to 10 days before the foal is born. After being pregnant for about 12 months, the baby foal is born. Once the foal is born it is usually cared for by its mother for around two years before it truly is fully grown and can take care of itself and start a family of its own. Although most other animals have babies every year the jennet only has them about every four years or so. Very rarely will the female donkey have twins. Only about every 14 percent of all donkey births end up in twins, and out of that only about 18 percent of them will both come out alive. [3]


The common donkey or equus asinus is a very durable animal and can be found almost anywhere in the world. The first donkey that was not domestic was originally found in hilly grassy areas or in northern Africa, where it was used as a pack animal and some times even food. Even though the domestic donkey has been able to adapt to almost any environment from snowy regions to extremely hot regions, it will always prefer the warmer regions and if left to become feral, will end up returning to a area with a warmer climate. The donkey, even though it prefers an area with a warm climate and good vegetation, will be fine in the desert with not much water or food. The donkey is mostly used as a pack animal in Africa and throughout most of Asia, and is a crucial part of life for many nomads of the deserts in surrounding areas. In North America, the donkey is mostly kept as a normal farm animal and not for traveling. [4]

Threat of Extinction

The wild donkey has been captured for centuries for breeding and to use as pack animals, which is causing the species to dwindle to the hundreds in the wild which is dangerously close to extinction. The donkey is also hunted for sport, food, and medicine in villages and some other hunting trips. The donkey is also having its water and food taken away from all the agricultural growing, and the new construction that has been going on. The donkey, even though close to extinction, is under protection in many countries and is against the law to hunt, but you can't stop someone from hunting the donkey if it is mandatory for survival for some villages in Africa. The villagers also use the donkey as a pack animal and have the new born foals grow up in their possession, which is killing out the wild donkey and domesticating it. Even though there is thousands of domesticated donkeys there are only a few left of the original wild donkey.[5]


  1. Robinson, Rob. [1] The Robinson Ranch. Web. 11/30/03 uploaded.
  2. Robinson, Rob. [2] The Robinson Ranch. Web. 11/30/03 uploaded.
  3. Dahlstet, Ellen. [3] National Mini Donkey Associations. Web.
  4. . [4] Global Invasive Species. Web. 15 September 2010 last modified .
  5. [5] The Wild Ass. Web..