- This is an article about the species. For topics that share the name, see Donkey (disambiguation)
The donkey or ass is a domesticated member of the horse family.
 Physical characteristics
Donkeys are adapted to marginal desert lands, and have many traits that are unique to the species as a result. Wild donkeys live separated from each other, unlike tight wild and feral horse herds, and in the wild, asses can reach top speeds equalling zebras and even most horses. Donkeys have developed very loud vocalizations, which help keep in contact with other donkeys over the wide spaces of the desert. The best-known call is referred to as a "bray," which can be heard for over three kilometers. Donkeys in the wild can defend themselves with a powerful kick of their hind legs as well as by biting and striking with their front hooves.
A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. The much rarer successful mating of a male horse and a female donkey produces a hinny. The offspring of a zebra-donkey cross is called a zonkey, zebroid, zebrass, or zedonk; "zebra mule" is an older term, but still used in some regions today. The foregoing terms generally refer to hybrids produced by breeding a male zebra to a female donkey. Zebra hinny, zebret and zebrinny all refer to the cross of a female zebra with a male donkey.
Donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, but this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of "self preservation" than exhibited by horses. Likely based on a stronger prey instinct and a weaker connection with man, it is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason.
 Classical literature
- In The Golden Ass by Lucius Apuleius Platonicus, the narrator is turned into a donkey by mistake and spends most of the novel in that shape.
- In Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, the character Bottom has his head turned into that of a donkey.
- In The Adventures of Pinocchio, naughty boys turn into donkeys and are sold off into hard labour.
 Other literature
- Eeyore, the gloomy donkey from A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" books, and later in film and television adaptions and spin-off works.
- Benjamin, the skeptical donkey from George Orwell's Animal Farm.
- Puzzle in C. S. Lewis's The Last Battle.
- ↑ The Donkey. Government of Alberta: Agriculture and Rural Development (1990-11-01). Retrieved on 2010-09-14.
- ↑ American Donkey and Mule Society: Zebra Hybrids. Lovelongears.com. Retrieved on 2010-09-14.
- ↑ ABC.net.au. ABC.net.au (2003-05-19). Retrieved on 2010-09-14.
 See also
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