African Wild Ass

(Equus africanus)




Facts about this animal

The extant Somali wild ass has a shoulder height of 125-135 cm and weighs about 230-250 kgs. It has a relatively large head with a narrow face and long, erect and motile ears. It has an erect mane without forelock or tufts. The legs are slender with narrow, tall hooves. The coat is short, grey-coloured with a rose tinge over the body and whitish underside, legs and muzzle. The legs have conspicuous zebra stripe and there is a faint dorsal stripe, usually without shoulder cross.


The African wild ass can easily be differentiated from the Asiatic wild asses by its coat colour which is grey, not brownish, and its longer ears.

Did you know?
That the African wild ass is the ancestor of the domestic donkey? In the 16th century, the Spanish brought domesticated African wild asses to the southwestern United States. The descendants of those animals -- best known as burros -- still roam through the Southwest.


Name (Scientific) Equus africanus
Name (English) African Wild Ass
Name (French) Ane sauvage d'Afrique
Name (German) Afrikanischer Wildesel
Name (Spanish) Asno salvaje del Africa
Local names Kiswahili: Punda
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan
Habitat Hilly and stony deserts, and arid to semi-arid bushlands and grasslands
Wild population Approx. 570 (EDGE 2011)
Zoo population There were 165 live Equus africanus somalicus registered with the International Studbook on January 1, 2008. In Europe, 21 institutions with a total of just over 100 African wild asses participate in the EEP.

In the Zoo

African Wild Ass


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 73 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations, should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Tim Vickers

Why do zoos keep this animal

The African wild ass is critically endangered in the wild. One probably two of the originally three known subspecies are already extinct. With a view of building up an ex situ insurance population an International Studbook was set up in 1968 under the WAZA umbrella, and zoos maintain now a self-sustained population of Equus africanus somalicus managed by AZA and EAZA under regional conservation breeding programmes. The African wild ass is the ancestor of our donkey and is thus also an interesting subject for biological education.