A male donkey or ass is called a jack. A female donkey is called a jenny or jennet. Donkey offspring less than a year old is called a foal; male is a colt, female is a filly.
While different species of the Equidae family can interbreed, offspring are almost always sterile. Nonetheless, horse/donkey hybrids are popular for their durability and vigor.
A mule is the offspring of a jack (male donkey) and a mare (female horse). A female mule is called a molly and a male mule is called a john. The much rarer successful mating of a stallion (male horse) and a jenny (female donkey) produces a hinny.
The head of a hinny resembles that of a horse, more so than mule heads do. Hinnies often have shorter ears, although they are still longer than those of horses, and more horse-like manes and tails than mules do. Hinnies' coats are usually one of the horse colors, as the male parent most often determines the color of the coat. Mules on the other hand usually have donkey coat colors.
A donkey has 62 chromosomes, whereas a horse has 64. Hinnies and mules, being hybrids of those two species, have 63 chromosomes and are sterile. The uneven number of chromosomes results in an incomplete reproductive system.
There are no recorded cases of fertile mule stallions. Female mules have been known to produce offspring when mated to a purebred horse or donkey, though this is extremely uncommon. Since 1527 there have been more than 60 documented cases of foals born to female mules around the world. In contrast, according to the ADMS, there is only one known case of a female hinny doing so. Mule mares pass along 100% of their maternal genes to their offspring, rather than a mix. Since a mule's mother is a horse, as a rule mule mares pass genes which are 100% horse to their foals. Thus, a mule mare bred to a horse stallion will produce a foal which is 100% horse, with no donkey genes at all. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinny
Miniature donkeys originated in the Mediterranean area of Northern Africa in ancient times and more recently from the Islands of Sicily and Sardinia off the west coast of Italy. Over time the distinctions between the two island populations blurred and they are now considered one breed properly called Miniature Mediterranean Donkeys. They are simply referred to as Miniature Donkeys in North America.
Purebred Miniature Donkeys in the Mediterranean area are rapidly disappearing, as the small donkeys are being mixed with larger breeds. For this reason, the Donkeys in North America have global genetic value. Fortunately, numbers in the U.S. and Canada are strong and are increasing since the first Donkeys arrived in the early 1900's. Approximately 2,179 animals were registered in 1995 and the current population is estimated between 17,000 and 20,000 in the U.S.
The Miniature Donkey is a compact, well-proportioned animal with a sweet, sociable disposition. At maturity (3 years), it is able to pull a cart or carry a pack as it did in its native Sicily and Sardinia.
The Miniature Donkey community should strive to combine as many positive qualities as possible in each jennet and jack pairing to ensure the progeny will be excellent representatives of the breed.
Although every Miniature donkey is not breeding quality, all Miniature Donkeys have a role to play as endearing companions and as public ambassadors in schools, fairs, parades and nursing homes.
The NMDA encourages breeders to help preserve the structure and character of the Miniature Donkey breed by keeping form and function a priority in their breeding programs. Regardless of whether a Miniature Donkey is selected for breeding, show or work purposes, a well balanced animal should have proportions and conformation that bear directly on the health and function of that individual. Miniature Donkey breeders and owners need to understand the practical reasons behind the Breed Standard, keeping in mind conformation is a combination of bone structure, muscle type, body fat and fitness.
Legend of the Donkey's Cross
The story is told that the donkey that had been Jesus' mount on Palm Sunday, came to the hill of Calvary. Seeing the tragic event taking place, he wished with all his heart that he had been able to carry the cross for Jesus, as he was the proper one to carry heavy burdens.
Ashamed of what was happening, the donkey turned his back on the sight, but would not leave for he wished to stay until all was over because of his love for Jesus.
In reward for the loyal and humble love of the little donkey, the Lord cast the shadow of the cross to fall across his back and left it there for the donkey to carry forever more as a sign that the love of God, no matter how humble, carries a reward for all us to see.
Published by The American Donkey & Mule Society
The Triumpant Donkey the Day After The donkey awakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride. He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. I'll show myself to them, he thought. But they didn't notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.
Throw your garments down, he said crossly. Don't you know who I am? They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move. Miserable heathens! he muttered to himself.
I'll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me. But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.
The palm branches! Where are the palm branches! he shouted. Yesterday, you threw palm branches! Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.