8 Fun Facts About Donkeys
8 Fun Facts about Donkeys
1. The scientific term for a domesticated donkey is Equus africanus asinus. Though closely related to horses (as part of the Equidae family), they actually have two fewer chromosomes than a horse.
2. A male donkey is called a jack, a female donkey is called a jenny or jennet, and a baby donkey is called a foal. When a jack donkey mates with a female horse, the offspring is called a mule, while the offspring of a stallion and jenny donkey is called a hinny. Donkeys can also breed with zebras, resulting in a “zonkey” or “zedonk.”
3. A donkey’s bray is so loud that it can be heard for over three kilometers, almost two miles. The call usually lasts twenty seconds.
4. During World War I, a British stretcher bearer serving with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps used a donkey to rescue wounded soldiers from the battlefield at Gallipoli, a peninsula in the Ottoman Empire. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey are said to have saved over 150 soldiers.
5. There are an estimated 5 million feral donkeys in Australia, where they compete with livestock for resources, spread weeds and disease, damage watering holes, and are generally regarded as an “invasive pest.”
6. During the rise of Christianity, some new believers saw the cross-shaped marking on a donkey’s back as a symbol of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Because of this, Europeans in the Middle Ages used hair from the donkey’s back (or even just contact with a donkey) as a “home” remedy to treat measles, whooping cough, and other illness. One 1400 AD physician even subscribed to the belief that riding backwards on a donkey could cure a scorpion sting!
7. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, believed that the braying of a donkey indicated that the donkey had seen the devil.
8. Famous donkeys include Eeyore from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Puzzle from C. S. Lewis’ The Last Battle, Donkey from the Shrek franchise, and Benjamin the donkey from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.