Donkey at Our Long Island Zoo

Long Island Donkeys

The “helping hooves” of humankind, also known as the donkey, originated from the desert areas of northern Africa and lower Egypt. The first donkeys came to the Americas on ships during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus.

For thousands of years, donkeys have been used as working animals, with only a small number of them kept for breeding and as pets. They were used to carry silk along the “Silk Road” from the Pacific Ocean to the Mediterranean, in Greece to work on narrow paths between the vines in vineyards and also as pack animals in northern Europe.

Donkeys come in a variety of sizes, ranging in height from under 36 inches for the Miniature Mediterranean to 63 inches and up for the Mammoth Jackstock. On average, they live for about 25 years and can weigh anywhere between 280 and 1,060 pounds. They have many different hair colors, including grey, brown, black, a combination of brown and white or black and white and pure white.

These mammals are herbivores, so their diet mainly consists of grasses, alfalfa, shrubs and desert plants. Donkeys are at their full potential when they eat small amounts of food over a long period of time.

Donkeys also travel in herds, which makes them great guard animals. They can discourage an attack of any predator, especially canines. Herds of cattle, sheep and goats can always feel safe when traveling with a donkey.