Equus asinus

Donkeys are members of the Equidae family and are closely related to the zebra and horse.

Originally found in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, donkeys have been domesticated and are now located throughout the world.

About the Species

Burro Buddies

The Spanish word for donkey is burro. Donkeys were first brought to America by the Spaniards in the 1500s as a vital part of the workforce and as companions to the pioneers of the West. Herds of wild asses are generally made up of one male and several females. Larger herds have multiple males and females. Donkeys were often used as pack animals by prospectors during the gold rush of the 1800’s. At the end of the mining era, the donkeys were set free or escaped and became feral. With their only natural predator being the panther, they rapidly established herds and flourished. Because they can eat a large amount of the desert grasses, they have a high impact on the native species such as the bighorn sheep, and are considered to be an invasive species. One way to control the wild donkey population is through “Burro Adoption”. Our burros have been adopted from the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, and is one way that the Central Florida Zoo is helping conservation efforts.

Words From the Experts


Farmers often will place a donkey in herds of sheep, cows or goats to protect from coyotes or other predators. Donkeys can attack and drive off anything that they feel is a threat to “their” herd.


Did You Know?

Male donkeys are called “Jacks” and female donkeys are called “Jennies”.



Originally in Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula


Dry, desert regions


3–4 feet at the shoulder | 400–500 pounds


Grass, shrubs, plants


Panthers, wolves, bears

Natural Defenses

Drives off anything seeming as a threat to their herd


One foal each year



Life Expectancy

25–30 years in natural habitat or 50 years in human care

  • Saving Animals From Extinction
  • Culture Builds Florida
  • Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums