* 2010, Dick Mynas, Pies Were for Thursdays: Tales from an Ordinary Glasgow East End Childhood, page 283, I did not even know what a ‘ pony '’, a small chaser of beer, was. So putting on an air of nonchalance, and a deep voice, I strolled into a pub with one of the other equally naive guys, and we ordered two ponies of beer.
(Australia, New South Wales, Victoria) A serving of 140 milliliters of beer. (US, slang) A translation used as a study aid; loosely, a crib, a cheat-sheet.
(Cockney rhyming slang) (from “pony and trap”) Crap; rubbish, nonsense. Adjective (er) (Cockney rhyming slang) Of little worth.
Donkeys have been recorded in everything from ancient Egyptian artwork to merchant scrolls about people traveling the Silk Road. For many years, “ass” and “she-ass” were completely normal and non-vulgar terms that people used to describe their pack animals.
Some donkeys are even used for rescue missions when a hiker or climber goes missing in the mountains. They'll beg for treats and belly rubs, and they'll engage in fun, playful behavior with their owners.
They travel in herds in warm desert environments and outbacks, and they can go long periods without food or water. They tend to ruin local ecosystems by eating all the grass, spreading weeds with their fur and eroding all the soil with their hard hooves.
They're a particular problem in Australia: More than five million wild donkeys roam the land, and they're considered such pests that it's legal to kill them. Their legs are very powerful and used to scare away predators, so you don't want to get caught behind a donkey that's feeling threatened.
They'll claim a field or pasture and behave threateningly towards any animals that disturb it. While other animals will flee from a wolf or snake, donkeys will stare them down in an act of silent defiance.
Donkeys also have a natural dislike of foxes, coyotes, wild dogs and other members of the candid family. They'll still try to slip past a fence even if they know that a donkey is on guard duty; they just bank on not getting caught as they slink among the sheep.
Donkeys are a staple of things like mountain tours and trail walks; not only can they be used as personal porters, but they can also guide the way across unstable terrain with their sure-footed strides. This means that a donkey measuring 11 hands is 44 inches or 3.6 feet tall.
According to the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS), there are 189 donkey breeds in existence. However, this number tends to fluctuate since there are simply so many species and sub-species that accounting for all of them is nearly impossible.
Their large size makes them a valuable choice for breeders, so they're bought, sold and traded like high-class horses. They have cute appearances and gentle personalities, so they're quite at home at farms, fairs, equine shows and petting zoos.
Grand Noir du Berry donkeys are used for hauling and riding. They're strong and resilient while also being quite placid, so they'll go where directed and work hard for their owners.
French Poison donkeys are famous for their long and stylish coats. Wild donkeys are mostly found in the deserts of northern Africa and the Middle East.
There are also thriving communities in the warmest, driest parts of Asia and Australia. Domesticated donkeys are usually fed hay, but they enjoy special treats like apples, pears, beets, bananas, bread, and molasses.
Whenever wild donkeys move to a new area, they tend to gobble up everything until it's completely decimated. Donkeys love bananas, and they aren't put off by the bitter taste of the peel like humans are.
This is why so many wild donkeys are found in African and Middle Eastern deserts. In addition, donkeys have thin coats that don't offer a lot of protection in the winter.
They keep the same coat throughout the year, so when the cold winds start blowing, they shiver a lot more than other creatures on the farm. In fact, a growing number of people are buying donkeys for companionship rather than work.
They don't need help with carrying firewood or pulling a cart; they just want a fun, friendly animal to brighten their days. As herd animals, they're always happiest in social groups, and it's common for them to “adopt” humans and kids into their own little family.
They can be trained to respond to dozens of different voice commands, and they have amazing memories that can recognize a person or route that they haven't seen for years. Donkeys can recognize an obstacle in the road and change their course before they reach it, even if this means taking a longer way around.
They also have good balance; they instinctively understand the weight distribution of their cargo and how it affects their stride. Donkeys are known for their big, pointed ears, but these features are more than just goofy-looking head toppers.
Donkeys use their ears to cool down when they get overheated, and this is important since so many of them live in desert climates. Female donkeys have one of the longest gestation periods in the entire animal kingdom.
The babies are often fraternal rather than identical: They'll be different colors or genders, or one foal will be healthy while the other is sickly. They have a unique appearance with brown bodies and black-and-white striped legs, so you can tell that you're looking at a hybrid species right away.
The price of a donkey depends on its age, gender, breed and sexual maturity. Generally speaking, donkeys can pull about twice their body weight across flat, even terrain.
As for what they can withstand on their back, an average-sized donkey (11 HH) can carry an average-sized person (150 pounds). They're both descended from the equine branch of the family tree, but they're more like cousins than brothers.
They came into existence after George Washington started breeding and studding especially large donkeys ; he had a kind of side business for people in the area, and before anyone knew it, they'd created a long-lasting donkey breed. The single biggest donkey is the world is an American mammoth named Romulus.
He measures 17 hands (5.6 feet) from the bottom of his hooves to the top of his withers, and he weighs a staggering 1,300 pounds. However, miniature donkeys are so cute and playful that it's easy to see why people coo over them.
They make great companions for kids, and since they're too small for backbreaking labor, they're usually socialized as pets rather than used as work animals. He's a miniature Mediterranean donkey that measures just 25 inches, and he's officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for his small stature.
They have white or white-blonde coats with blue or pink eyes, and they're often less than three feet tall. It's rumored that they found a home in Sardinia after being shipwrecked there during overseas transport.
Another rumor has it that they were shipped to Sardinia as a gift from an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. Donkeys keep a normal clock and will go to sleep at night with the other farm animals, but they snooze while standing up.
While it's not uncommon to see them relax in the sun or take a nap laying down, they prefer to stay on their feet. As for how they're able to do it, there's a special part of their brain that maintains their balance even when they're unconscious, so they don't need to lie down like other animals might.
Donkeys are placid creatures that can be trained to transport passengers just like horses, camels, and mules. In fact, you'll see a lot of donkey-riding in tourism packages when people are exploring the caves of Peru or the cliffs of Pakistan.
They can carry the same burdens, but they don't spook as easily; they're just as smart and loyal, but they won't require the same kind of maintenance. Many people name their donkeys after something related to Mexican or Spanish culture, so you'll see a lot of “Burrito,” “Burro” and “Poncho.” It's also common to find donkeys named after popular characters like Eeyore.
Don't forget all the sweet tales of donkeys having best friends for grooming and grazing! The herds are usually comprised of one male with an assortment of females and foals, and they'll work together to find food and shelter as they explore new territories.
For example, according to the Acoustical Society of America, donkeys are one of the few species that can make noise while they're breathing in and out. “Donkey vocalizations (…) appear to be unique among the Equine in that significant sound is produced during both air intake (the he) and air outflow (the haw).” As for why donkeys make these vocalizations in the first place, there are a variety of reasons.
Like many mammals, female donkeys produce milk, and it can be collected and consumed by humans. There are even pediatric hospitals that give donkey milk to babies because it's less likely to upset their delicate stomachs.
Historically, donkey milk has also been used in cosmetics and medicinal remedies. One of the first people to sing the praises of donkey milk was none other than Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine.
Donkeys have exhibited signs of grief after the death of a herd member. In 2014, a Swedish animal sanctuary had to put down an elderly donkey that was very sick, and his herd mates gathered around his body and started braying in distress.
While they aren't endangered, their numbers have been slowly declining over the years, and there are certain species of wild donkeys that are vulnerable to extinction. For example, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reports that the African wild ass is down to less than 200 mature adults.
Donkeys have been featured in everything from animated children's movies to depressing dystopian novels. One of the staple characters from Winnie the Pooh, he's probably the single most famous donkey in the world.
Benjamin: You might not recognize Benjamin by name, but he was the donkey from George Well's Animal Farm who served as a representation of the older Russian generation during the spread of communism in the Soviet Union. While this isn't anywhere near a complete list, it might give you an idea of how many donkeys are a part of our language, culture, and history.
This is a children's game involving blindfolds that can also be used to describe a pointless or frustrating task. This comes from an old fable about a donkey dressing up in a lion's skin to fool the other animals.
Eventually, he brayed and gave himself away, so the moral of the story is that people can't fool you once they open their mouths. For example, “a donkey walking backward” is part of a French phrase talking about dishonesty.