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Donkey

The donkey or domestic ass (Equus asinus) is a domesticated animal used to carry loads, pull carts, and carry riders. The wild ancestors of the donkey are African. Donkeys are equids, smaller than the domestic horse. They have long ears and great endurance.

A male donkey (jackass or jack) can be crossed with a female horse to produce a mule and a male horse crossed with a female donkey (jennet or jenny) to produce a hinny.

Cultural aspects

Their reputation for stubborness is due to some handlers' misinterpretation of their highly-developed sense of self preservation. It is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest. Donkeys are quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn. Once you have earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners in work and recreation.

The ass was a symbol of the Egyptian god, Ra, the Greek god Dionysus as well as Jesus Christ, who is said to have ridden the animal into Jerusalem; this is the origin of the cross on its shoulders. Greek mythology also includes the story of King Midas who judged against Apollo in favor of Pan during a musical contest and had his ears changed to those of a donkey as punishment.

An Indian tale has an ass dressed in a panther skin give himself away by braying, while one of Aesop's fables similarly has an ass dressed in a lion skin who gives himself away by braying. A German proverb claims a donkey can wear a lion suit but its ear will still stick out andgive it away. English proverbs include better be the head of an ass than the tail of a horse, if an ass goes a-traveling, he'll not come back a horse and better ride on an ass that carries me home than a horse that throws me.

European folklore also claims that the tale of a donkey can be used to combat whooping cough or scorpion stings.



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