Here are six quick facts about me. Use them to wow your friends…and get to know a bit more about my species at the same time.
1. A donkey and a burro are actually the same animal. The term “burro” is simply the Spanish word for donkey. (Learn how to say donkey in even more languages!)
2. Although the origin of the word donkey is unknown, it is thought to originate from the word “dun,” which would refer to the dull grey-brown color of our coats.
3. All donkeys have a dorsal stripe and a shoulder stripe. (Can
spot both my stripes in this photo?)
4. “Domestic Donkeys” are relatives to the Horse, and are in the same species classification, “Equus,” as the Wild Horse Wild Ass, and the Zebra. This mammal group is characterized by long heads and necks, skinny legs, and one-toe feet. (Sounds familiar!)
5. All donkeys are descendants of the African Nubian wild ass, which are near extinction.
6. The word “ass” comes from the Latin word asinus. There are many derogatory terms using the word “ass” that link to the donkey, characterizing the animal as clumsy or stupid. However, donkeys are incredibly intelligent, sure-footed animals. May we choose to not use these terms in our language, as they are a huge misrepresentation of the donkey population.
Have a question about donkeys? Comment below and see if I know the answer!
Humans have touted the healing powers of donkey milk all through history, dating as far back as the Egyptians. Stories that have been passed down say that Cleopatra, Queen of Ancient Egypt (69BC – 30BC), took baths in donkey milk to keep her skin looking young and beautiful. She kept more than 300 Jennies (female donkeys) to provide enough milk for her daily bath.
The “Father of Medicine,” Hippocrates (460BC – 370 BC), recommended the use of donkey milk for the healing of poisoning, infectious diseases, fevers, and wounds.
Donkey milk is considered to be the closest match to human milk because it contains high amounts of lactose and low amounts of fat and protein. It has been used as a substitute to cow’s milk for infants who are lactose intolerant.
I’ve referenced Jill Bough’s book, Donkey, for this post and highly recommend it!
Just like dogs and cats at your local Humane Society, there are many donkeys that need help and a home. Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Bennet, Colorado is an organization that connects donkeys in need with a safe and loving home. It was founded by Kathy Dean to save unwanted donkeys from being sold for slaughter. According to the shelter’s website, Kathy and her team has rescued more than 750 donkeys and secured homes for about 700. Given that the organization started rescuing in 1998, that’s an impressive number.
I’d like to share Longhopes Donkey Shelter’s mission statement with you, as it gives me hope to see an organization with such meaningful goals to the donkey animal family:
The wonderful mission statement of Longhopes Donkey Shelter (via Longhopes.org)
Curious if you meet the requirements of donkey adoption? To find out, take a look here: Adoption Information.
As I mentioned, burro is the Spanish word for donkey. We have many more names, depending on where we live. Here is how you say donkey in some other languages.
Italian: asino (ah-see-noh)
French: baudet (bo-day)
Finnish: aasi (ah-see)
German: esel (ee-zel)
Czech: osel (oh-sel)
Brazilian Portugese: jumento (ju-men-to). Meet Boneco, a famous “jumento” in Brazil. Boneco is actually a beekeeping donkey, but that is a story for another time…
Photo credit: Gizmod0
Did you know that a female donkey is called a Jenny? And if you’re a female donkey in certain parts of the world (western Canada, for example) people might even call you a Jennet. The word Jennet takes root in the Spanish language (sometimes spelled “genet”) and dates back to the Middle Ages, when people used the word to refer to a small horse.
Male donkeys have two nick names: Jack and John. A Jack refers to an in-tact male donkey that is able to breed, while a John is a castrated male donkey that is unable to breed.
Pop quiz: Can you guess if I am a Jenny, Jack, or John? Comments?