We often use the term ‘donkey’ or ‘ass’ to insult others or pull a joke or two but not many of us know that donkeys are incredible animals with excellent memory and tremendous physical strength. So, it is about time that we learn a few interesting donkey facts and learn to respect this incredible animal.

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1. Did you know donkeys have excellent memory? They are capable of remembering a place they have been to or other donkeys they met 25 years ago!

2. A donkey will never get involved in an activity if it considers it to be unsafe.

3. With proper maintenance and care, a donkey can live for more than 40 years.

4. Donkeys are by nature herd animals. They prefer to stay in groups but a single donkey can actually live happily with group of goats.

5. When it comes to traveling in all terrains, donkeys are far better than horses. In fact, donkeys are considered to be all-terrain animals.

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6. Donkeys are originally from desert areas of Middle East and Africa and are anatomically well-equipped to survive in those conditions.

7. A donkey is capable of hearing another donkey from a distance of 60 miles in proper desert conditions. This is possible because of their large ears.

8. Their large ears also help to keep their body cool in hot and arid desert conditions.

9. Compared to horses, donkeys are capable of independent thinking and decision making ensuring their safety.

10. In case they sense something wrong while traveling, they will simply not move ahead and will start digging in their heels. This is a behavior out of their intelligence. This behavior has made people think that donkeys are stubborn.

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11. As mentioned earlier, donkeys are herd animals. This is true even if they are domesticated. The strongest one in the herd is usually selected as the herd leader.

12. A herd leader always acts like a leader in face of a threat (like that of a predator attacking the herd). The leader will stay and face the threat allowing enough time for the rest of the herd to escape to safety.

13. Unlike horses, donkeys are not prone to being startled easily. Though they put safety first, they are still pretty curious by nature.

14. Donkeys hate rain. Their coat is not waterproof and staying out in rain for a long period actually damages their health.

15. Donkeys are capable of utilizing 95% of an entire meal they eat. This is because they are basically desert animals. In desert areas food is scarce and wasting food is not a luxury in those areas.

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16. Donkeys have a special and very efficient digestive system that is capable of breaking down even the most inedible vegetation known. They don’t just breakdown the vegetation, they can even extract moisture very efficiently out of those plants and use the same to keep themselves hydrated.

17. Just like in case of chimps and monkeys, donkeys in a herd will groom each other and keep themselves clean.

18. Donkeys can be well-trained however, it requires quite some patience. Actions or words that will help them to realize that humans mean to protect them will actually earn their trust and eventually, they will lend themselves to training.

19. These animals enjoy rolling on ground. This is in fact their best pastime.

20. A donkey is known by different names. The most common names are donkey, burro, ass and jackstock. However, of all these names, ass is the most scientifically correct name. Burros usually refer to wild donkeys.

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21. There are three different types of donkeys based on their height measured at shoulder level. The smallest type is known as Miniature donkey. These miniature breed of donkeys don’t go past the height of 36 inches. The other type is the Standard breed measuring 36-54 inches and final one is the Mammoth breed that measures more than 54 inches.

22. Donkeys and horses are often crossbred. The baby of a female horse and a male donkey is known as Mule.

23. The baby of a male horse and a female donkey is known as Hinny (plural: hinnies).

24. A male donkey is often referred to as Jack while a female goes by the name Jenny or Jennet.

25. Jennies stay pregnant for 365 days and eventually give birth to a single baby (foal). Twin births are very rare in case of donkeys.

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26. Hinnies and Mules are sterile by birth. Mules are more desirable than Hinnies because Mules are stronger.

27. Donkeys get depressed very easily when left alone. That is the reason why they live in herds. In absence of other donkeys, they will need some other companions like goats or humans.

28. Donkeys naturally have canines including domesticated dogs. However, their natural enemies are wolves and coyotes. Because of their natural hatred for canines, they defend themselves and their companions very aggressively against the canines. This particular characteristic of donkeys make them wonderful guard animals for flocks of sheep and goats.

29. Donkeys and horses have same gait but donkeys are rarely seen running. Deserts being their native climate, donkeys probably saw running as unnecessary in high temperature. This instinct of not running has stayed with them since their evolution.

30. China has the highest number of donkeys in the entire world. In Britain, donkeys need to have passport!

Sources: 1, 2

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