This “beast of burden” is said to have been domesticated 6,000 years ago for their strength, milk, companionship and have even been used to protect other livestock from wolves, coyotes and foxes.
Donkeys are members of the Equidae family and are relatives of horses and zebras. Their iconic “hee-haw” is known as braying. Males are called “jacks” and females are called “jennets”. Burro is the Spanish name for donkeys and is often used when referring to feral animals.
Like all hoofed animals, a donkey’s eyes are placed on the sides of their head giving them a wide field of vision. They can rotate their ears independently to locate where a sound is coming from. These long ears have an excellent blood supply and helps cool their body in the desert habitat they originate from.
Donkeys are actually very cautious and observant animals. Rather than running away blindly from something that startles them, they’ll freeze or take a few steps and look back to see what it was. They will refuse to do anything if it seems dangerous, this has earned them the reputation for being stubborn.
They are often used as companions for other animal species such as horses, cows and sheep.
Often confused with donkeys, mules are actually the offspring of a male donkey (jack) and a female horse (mare) and cannot reproduce.