Equus asinusdonkey st 1


  • Equidae


  • Up to possibly 47 years old


  • Height: Over 36” but under 48” at the withers (shoulder)
  • Weight: 300-600 pounds


  • Donkeys evolved in a desert habitat but have been domesticated for over 2000 years


  • In the wild: Grasses and other plant matter
  • At the zoo: Hay


  • Females mature at around 3 years of age.
  • Gestation lasts between 11 and 13 months after which a single foal is born.
  • Foals are walking within 30 minutes of birth
  • They will be weaned at 5 or 6 months old.

Special adaptations

  • Donkeys have larger ears than horses, which help to cool them – an adaptation to living in warm weather
  • Donkeys have very powerful bites and kicks which they will use in defense
  • Donkeys have loud vocalizations which help them to keep in contact with each other, even over long distances

Interesting facts

  • Donkeys have a soothing effect on other livestock animals. They are often kept with young, nervous, injured or recovering animals to help soothe them.
  • Dun (gray) is the most common color of donkeys, although other colors and patterns are present in domestic breeds
  • Donkeys were historically used as pack animals to carry heavy loads over long distances. They were more desirable than horses since they are smaller in size, hardier, and can subsist on poorer quality of food while still being able to carry substantial weight
  • Modern uses for donkeys include transport and being kept as pets
  • Captive donkeys are commonly under threat of being overweight, since the quality of food likely to be fed is higher than the food they would have encountered in the wild (more calories per food item), along with decreased levels of activity

Conservation status

  • CITES –Not Listed
  • IUCN –Not Evaluated


  1. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 2016. http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Equus_asinus/
  2. Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. (February 5, 2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php
  3. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed January 2016. http://www.eol.org/pages/328647/overview
  4. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search