Most people do not believe or know that white donkeys exist, I was among those groups of people till my friend sent me a picture of the beautiful Asinara donkey. Nothing stayed the same ever since, I fell in love with this rare, unique, handsome creature instantly. I have kept donkeys on the farm for a long time, little did I know that this workaholic species comes in white color as well.
Most people are not aware of the Asinara donkey because we rarely ever see them. White is a rare color for a donkey, therefore, this donkey breed attracts many donkey lovers across the world. As time went by, my affection for this donkey breed grew, the more I researched the more I fancied them.
Even though this breed comes in a rare color, I knew that the prices would be high. Still, I was willing to spend a huge amount of money on this donkey breed. However, I was not sure if this breed was feral or not as that would have been a deal-breaker. I had little knowledge about the cost, habitat, size, and characteristics as well. So, I deemed the only way out was researching my way through it.
I spent a good couple of days trying to find any information about this breed. Only a few helpful articles I stumbled upon, I contacted experts to know more. After gathering all the information I decided to share it with the readers, so that anyone searching for the Asinara donkey should get all the information under a single roof.
Asinara is indigenous to the Asinara Island located off the northwest coast of Sardinia, Italy, in the province of Sassari. It is a beautiful island, probably on the bucket list of many animal lovers.
This island is not famous for just fascinating scenery but how these snowflakes of cuteness punctuate the landscape; munching, running, and playing on the grass with white hair seemingly glowing in the hot Mediterranean sun.
Not just white donkeys are considered part of the breed but also some grey donkeys fit the bill as well. These grey donkeys are believed to be the heterozygous carriers of the albino gene. Almost all the population is either wholly or partly albinistic.
For those of you who do not know what the term albinistic means; it is the congenital absence of any pigmentation or coloration; this trait is not just limited to animals but plants and humans as well. This trait is characterized by white hair, feathers, scales, skin, and pink eyes in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates as well.
The Asinara donkey and the Asinara Island have an eventful past. Asinara or donkey island has a long history, first colonized by the shepherds in the late 700s. However, those shepherds did not bring the white donkeys with them. Asinaras were later imported from Egypt.
It may surprise you that the Asinara population consists of a solitary person. It also goes by the name of Isola del Diavolo meaning Devil’s Island.
The island got the National Park Status and the donkey admirers started flocking to Asinara.
Being inhabitants of an island that has witnessed so much over the years, Asinara too has seen crazy times, As per the historians, the donkeys were brought to the island from Egypt. The history of these four-legged ‘blondes’ dates back centuries. However, their origin is lost to the mists of time but their arrival on this beautiful island of Italy happened in the 17th century.
As many historians believe that the Asinaras were brought from Egypt by the Marquis of Mores Duca dell’Asinara. Locals beg to differ. As per their opinion, they were brought to the island by a shipwrecked vessel en route to France. No evidence is there to support both theories.
Ever since they moved here, they made this island their home and took its name. Asinara donkey is counted among one of the eight autochthonous donkey breeds of limited distribution that was officially recognized by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the Ministero Delle Politiche Agricole Alimentari e Forestali.
Characteristics of Asinara donkey
The predominant and distinctive trait of this breed is being albinistic. The white coat has gotten them recognition all around the world. The white donkey is small-sized and can be categorized as Miniature. Anisara donkeys are very smart.
Anisara donkey has a heavy head, short neck, thick coat, and thin but strong legs. They also have beautiful eyes, quite different from the common donkey breeds. Their eye color is pink to light blue.
Weight & Size
If you do not know already an average donkey weight ranges between 80 KG to 480 KG. Since Asinara is a miniature donkey, it weighs anywhere between 80 KG to 105 KG.
The same goes for height, they are smaller in size than the regular ones. Donkeys are usually 79 to 160 cm tall whereas miniature white Asinara donkey’s average height is 80 to 105 cm.
Donkeys generally like to graze and live in a lush green area. In Asinara, there is plenty of lands to graze on. These white creatures can not be domesticated as they can not be tamed.
They rarely approach travelers on the Island, either they are too shy or timid. They are aloof creatures who rarely show interest in building a bond with humans. However, some white donkeys are exceptions, they follow their curiosity and approach humans for a little scratch on the nose.
Donkeys are known as beasts of burden, but the question is whether these adorable donkeys are adapted to harsh working conditions or not. Asino dell’Asinara has been used by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens for multiple purposes for hundreds of years.
Back in the day, Asinara white donkeys used to work just like other breeds. They were used to work tirelessly at mills for flour and oil presses. In modern times, all of them have gotten retirement from the work and roam free on the island and explore different areas of Asinara.
Today, they see humans with curiosity and awe on the walking and cycling route of the island called ‘The Path Of the White Donkey’.
This is a rare breed as you may have guessed already. White donkeys are rarely seen and only have a limited number. The same is the case with Anisara donkeys, there are more or less 120 said donkeys on the island. Anisara is categorized as a ‘breed of limited distribution’.
Few of them are found in the natural reserve of Porto Conte in Alghero while some reside in the Istituto di Incremento Ippico at Foresta Burgos. Some farm owners in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna are also raising this breed.
They have the same lifespan as other breeds of donkeys. They are not likely going to outlive them or die soon. For working white donkeys the average lifespan would be about 12 to 15 years, whereas, for donkeys living in prosperous conditions, they may live 30 to 50 years.
Putting it all together, Asinara is a rare donkey breed, and everyone’s curiosity to know about them is understandable. Native to the islands of Sardinia and Asinara, this donkey breed surely captivates your heart with its beauty.
- The metabolic profile of Asinara (albino) and Sardo donkeys (pigmented) (Equus asinus L., 1758)
- The albinism of the feral Asinara white donkeys ( Equus asinus ) is determined by a missense mutation