Hair to stay - rare donkeys arrive at zoo
Thursday 26 June 2008
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s newest arrivals are set to be a mane attraction, as they are a rare and very hairy breed of donkey.
Even though Tizer and Tarka, ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s new poitou donkeys, are both just a year old they are already the size of a large pony. This breed is bigger than your average donkey and will be the size of a shire horse when fully grown.
Poitou donkeys originate from France and are extremely rare. There are only about 600-800 left in the world, with approximately 40 of those in the UK. Their distinctive coat is shaggy and hairy and their ears look as if the hair has been crimped!
They were once bred for crossing with large horses to produce mules suitable for heavy farm work. However the development of farm machinery such as tractors made them redundant and so many Poitou donkeys ended up on the scrap heap.
ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's pair are settling in well to the children’s farm, where their neighbours are the llamas and alpacas. These hairy donkeys have already drawn gasps of amazement from visitors, who can see them in the stable or out in the grassy paddock with the other farm regulars.