History of Donkeys for Kids - why did people raise donkeys? how are donkeys different from horses?

History of Donkeys


The Mediterranean and West Asia are excellent places for donkeys, which are like horses but smaller. Donkeys are strong, so they can carry heavy loads, but they are small so they don't need as much to eat as cattle or horses do. And donkeys have good digestion. They're not as delicate as horses, and they can eat practically anything.

People probably first thought of donkeys as food, and hunted them. But by around 3000 BC people had already begun to use donkeys to carry things from one place to another (This is about a thousand years after people tamed horses in Central Asia). Probably African people were the first ones to have tame donkeys. They may have tamed donkeys because Africa was getting warmer, and they had to change the way they lived in order to deal with that.

People also used donkeys to ride on, and to plow fields in lighter soils (for heavier soils, donkeys are not strong enough, and you have to use cattle).

To find out more about donkeys, check out these books from Amazon.com or from your library:

definitive donkey

Wonders of Donkeys, by Sigmund Lavine and Vincent Scuro (1979). For kids.

The Definitive Donkey, by Betsy Hutchins (1999). All about donkeys, including how to train them.

Horse Power: A History of the Horse and the Donkey in Human Societies, by Juliet Clutton-Brock (1992).

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