Donkeys - Wild Asses - The Noble Beast
The donkey or ass is arguably the noblest beast in all of the animal kingdom. The ass is sober, patient, cautious, intelligent, sure-footed, has good stamina and contrary to common belief is not stubborn. The dog may be man’s best friend but the ass is no stranger.
African and Asian wild asses are the same species as the domestic donkey which originated in northeast Africa in what is now Somalia and Egypt. Asses were domesticated perhaps as long as 6000 years ago. There are a number of domestic donkey breeds nowadays.
A mule, is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The offspring of a male horse and a female donkey (a jenny or jennet) is a hinny. A male donkey is a jackass. Hinnies are much less common than mules. Mules and hinnies are generally sterile.
Jackasses seem to enjoy braying and vocalizing with their raspy voices. Since the donkey is originally from desert territory where food can be scarce the donkey herds did not live so closely together in packs as horse do. This is why the donkey’s bray is so loud, so that they can communicate with each other over long distances. Their long ears also help them hear each others call well.
“Ass” is the original english term for the Equus asinus but since “ass” is also a vulgar word, the word was gradually replaced by the word “donkey”. The source of the word “donkey” is not certain.
Donkeys have a very tough digestive system that allows them to eat some very tough vegetable matter, breaking it down and capitalizing on any available moisture. Of course carrots, hay and oats are tasty too.
Domestic donkeys are good with other animals. They will bond with herds of sheep, cattle and goat and sleep together with them at night. They may also sound an alarm if there is any danger lurking to protect the herds from predators such as coyotes, wolves or dogs. They are also good companions for nervous or lonely horses.