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African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) Fact Sheet, 2009  

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) Fact Sheet, 2009

Image Credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All Rights Reserved.

TaxonomyPhysical Characteristics


Equus africanus - Heuglin & Fitzinger 1866
Equus asinus (domesticated form) - Linneaus 1758

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Perissodactyla

Suborder: Hippomorpha

Family: Equidae

Genus: Equus

Species: Equus africanus - African wild ass
[Species: Equus asinus - domestic donkey]

Subspecies: Equus africanus africanus
Subspecies: Equus africanus somaliensis

Body Weight: 275 kg (606 lbs)

Head/Body Length: 200 cm (6.6 ft)

Tail Length: 42 cm (17 in)

Pelage: Short smooth gray or brown
with dark stripe down center of back;
upright mane, no forelock; Somali wild
asses have dark leg banding.

Distribution & StatusBehavior & Ecology

African wild asses in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia.
[Domestic donkeys found nearly world-wide.]

Habitat: African wild asses - arid and semi-arid shrub or grassland. Domestic and feral donkeys - tolerate hot, arid conditions but adapt to many climates and environments.

IUCN Status: Equus africanus, Critically Endangered C2a(i) ver. 3.1

CITES Appendix: Equus africanus is listed in Appendix I [excludes domesticated form)

Population in Wild:  Extremely rough estimate of 600 African wild asses; 20-200 mature individuals

Locomotion: Walk, trot, canter, jump, gallop, swim

Activity Cycle: Graze until late afternoon; rest in heat of day

Social Groups: Small, unstable groups of females and young with one or more stallions; vary according to resources present

Diet: Grasses, bark, leaves, shrubs

Predators: In western U.S., mountain lions and humans

Reproduction & DevelopmentSpecies Highlights

Sexual Maturity: Males by 2 years; females by 1.5 years but don't usually breed until 2-3 years.

Gestation: 1 year

Litter Size: Usually one; two rarely

Birth weight: 25 kg (55 lb)

Age at Weaning: 12-14 mo.

Longevity: 20 years in wild; 47 years for domestic

Feature Fact: Feral donkeys are well-adapted to life in hot arid environments; they can vary their body temperature by as much as 6.5° C (11.7° F).

San Diego Zoo Global: In 2011, the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park had three new foals born to the herd's sire, "Freedom". Seven critically endangered Somali wild asses now reside at the Park. (Equus africanus somaliensis). Since the birth of the park's first Somali ass in 1986, 42 have been born there. Only four other U.S. institutions have Somali wild asses.


About This Fact Sheet

© 2009-2015 San Diego Zoo Global. Updated Month 2015.

How to cite: African Wild Ass (Equus africanus) Fact Sheet, 2009. c2009-2015. San Diego (CA): San Diego Zoo Global; [accessed YYYY Mmm dd]. 
(Note: replace YYYY Mmm dd with date accessed, e.g., 2015 Jan 15)

Disclaimer: Although San Diego Zoo Global makes every attempt to provide accurate information, some of the facts provided may become outdated or replaced by new research findings. Questions and comments may be addressed to

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