Monday, April 4, 2011

D is For: Donkeys

Donkeys: Nature's Two Men and a Truck.

A sweet unassuming animal, the humble donkey has helped to build empires, survive harsh climates and been the victim of its own stupidity for millennia.

The donkey as we know it today is little changed from your grandpa's donkey of yesterday. Originating in Africa, Equus africanus asinus or Wild Ass as it's more commonly known, came into popularity when it was discovered that they could easily be tricked into helping move from one desert to the next. In fact all that is truly needed for motivation is a carrot dangling from a string, tied to a stick. Unlike horses, donkeys need less food and are therefor perfect for an environment with scarce supplies. In fact donkeys that live in lush areas must be watched carefully for danger of overeating and becoming a "fat ass".

The donkey is also known as a good family animal. In ancient Rome, it would have been the equivalent of a minivan (See: Mary mother of Jesus on the way to Bethlehem). Favored of boys for the name (though it is unclear why anyone should find 'ass' to be humorous) and of girls for it's horse like charm, it's shape has been featured as many a toy. While the most famous is Eeyore (named after the braying sound the animal makes) other incarnations include: Block o' wood donkey (like a regular block of wood only the child says it's a donkey) and pin the tail on the donkey (in this case usually the father).

Fun Facts!
  • Only males are Jack, females are Jenny. So guys, the next time your girlfriend is being a jerk, remember, it's "jennyass"
  • Horses and donkeys can breed though the resulting offspring is almost always sterile. These are referred to as "mules" (if its father is a male donkey) and "hinny" (if it's mother is a female donkey)
  • Donkeys can see angels. (See: The Old Testament)
  • Much like three year olds, donkeys defend themselves by kicking with the hind and front legs and by biting. 
  • While the term ass comes from Equus asinus, it is unclear where the term donkey comes from.
  • Donkeys are actually a very smart animal having been known to protect herds from coyotes, by shooting them.
  • Never look a donkey in the eyes at it's always keen to let you know it's silently judging you.
  • Donkey milk is the closest milk to human breast milk. Got Donkey?

Yes the humble donkey's roots are in manual labor, but with a loyal heart, steadfast bravery, and fortifying ass milk, it is a true wonder of nature. So the next time someone calls you a "dumb ass" just thanks them as you ponder the wonder that is the donkey.

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