|Equus asinus||Equus asinus somalicus|
Donkeys have been domesticated since the ancient times in Northern Africa, Middle East, and Europe. Their small size made them suitable for riding in narrow, winding roads through hills and mountains.
The African Wild Ass is believed to be the ancestor of the domestic donkey. It lives arid areas of northeastern Africa, in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. It is believed that only about 570 individuals exist in the wild. This animal can run almost as fast as a horse, and can survive without water for a long time. Its digestive system is very good at extracting moisture from the desert vegetation and its large ears help in cooling (also provide for a very good sense of hearing). Because of the scarce vegetation in their environment, wild asses live somewhat separated form each other.
The picture on the left (of a young donkey) was taken at the Indianapolis
zoo, in the summer of 1999.
The picture on the right (of a wild ass) was taken in the Attica Zoological Park, Athens, Greece, in July 2008.
Life on Earth