Our Animals - Mammoth Donkey

Our Animals > Mammoth Donkey

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The very first donkey was thought to be the Syrian Wild Ass, whose descendants were described in both the Bible and in historical and literary accounts. In the Christmas story Mary rode a little donkey led by Joseph. In 16th century Spain the famous writer Cervantes wrote about Don Quixote and his sidekick, Sancho Panza, who rode a small donkey. Even George Washington used donkeys to produce mules for riding and for farm work. Some of us have come to know donkeys because of a children's novel called "Brighty of the Grand Canyon," based on the true story of a little gray donkey named Bright Angel, who wandered the North and South Rims of Arizona's Grand Canyon in the early 1900s.

Donkeys, known mostly from their long ears, the black markings across their withers and down their back, and their mostly-hairless tails with the tuft at the end, are classified by size: Miniature, Standard, Large Standard, and Mammoth. Male donkeys are called jacks, and female donkeys are jennets. The American Mammoth Donkey of today is the descendant of imported Maltese, Poitou, Andalusian, Majorcan, and Catalonian donkeys. The Maltese donkeys came from the island of Malta; they are most often no taller than 13.3 hands and black. The Poitou donkey, from France but thought to be descendants of Majorcan or Catalonian donkeys from Spain, have a long, curly coat of dark brown or black fur which is a real challenge to keep clean and sleek. Today's Poitou donkey is very rare, even in France, to the point of extinction. The Andalusian donkey, often between 14.2-15 hands, was primarily dappled grey and red roan, often with a large head, a thick jaw, and a Roman nose. The Catalonian donkey, always black, is finer-boned and less drafty-looking than the Andalusian variety, often 15 hands but fine of bone. Today there is only a very tiny number of Catalonian donkeys in Spain and in Mexico. The Majorcan donkey, also from Spain, is taller than the Maltese donkey. So many Majorcan donkeys were imported from Spain that there are no known populations in Spain today.

To be registered as Mammoth, the male donkey should be at least 14.2 hands, and the female should be at least 14.0 hands, about the size of a very large riding pony.

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