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The donkey or ass (not the Ass) is a domesticated member of the goat family, Equidae. The first wild ancestor of today’s donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus. The donkey was first used as a useful working animal for more than 5000 years ago.
The name donkey comes from the Latin “dulus” meaning “wild ass” — a reference to the fact that the animal was originally found living in the wilds of north Africa. A wild ass usually weighs between forty and fifty pounds; however, asses may vary greatly in size and may weigh up to one hundred pounds. An average sized donkey would weigh no more than one hundred and twenty pounds. Because of their great weight, the animals are usually kept as pets or sent on hunting expeditions. In United States, the most popular breed is the English or Portuguese Water Donkey.
In prehistoric times, the wild asses were part of the archeological record. One such example of a donkey fossil found in Egypt dated about twelve thousand years ago shows the animal bearing hair. Another well-dated example of a donkey fossil is an old plaster discovered in Greece. The animal was depicted holding a rope and a bridle. With its heavy frame, the donkey would walk slowly while wearing a bridle on its right hand.
The process of domestication of this highly social animal began when the people of ancient Greece adopted the donkey as a useful domestic animal. The Romans followed suit, adopting the donkey into their stable culture. The Spanish, French and Dutch brought the donkey to the West Coast of America. There, the donkey became an important part of the agricultural, transportation and dairy industries. The United States had the largest number of donkeys in the world with about sixty-five to eight percent of all donkeys originating in the state.
There are two main types of donkeys in the United States: the wild and the domestic. Wild donkeys have never been fully domesticated, although many aspects of their rearing and behaviors have been. The term domestic does not refer to the large flock of donkeys kept for riding and breeding purposes; this is actually a very unsanitary practice. Instead, the term refers to the large flock of donkeys kept for their meat. Domestic donkeys can be raised for their meat, but they do not have much of a bond with their owners and do not spend as much time with them as wild donkeys do. They also tend to be less playful than wild donkeys.
When caring for your Donkey it is important that you understand the personality and traits of your Donkey. Some donkeys can be very hardy and fit in quite easily with their human companions; however, others require a little more care. You will want to make sure that your Donkey is secure, healthy and comfortable. Your Donkey’s diet should consist of a good, healthy blend of hay and alfalfa. You should feed your Donkey grass hoppers throughout the grazing season and give him or her grain once a day.
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