Mule Surprisingly Shares With Donkeys

What a wonderful surprise awaited us this morning! While I was sitting with Anthony the rooster, we observed a very welcome sight. Here Buddy the Mule (on left) was sharing a pile of coastal hay with two of the John donkeys: Herschel (background, right), and Zeus (foreground, right). This is not at all normal behavior for this dominant mule. Buddy routinely chases-off the donkeys and we’ve never seen him sharing a meal. So what a delight it was to see buddy sharing! You can hear Anthony cooing and clucking in the background. The roosters are stimulated by the equines and they always make plenty of noise when the donkeys or mule visit the old hangar barn where they live.
Buddy the mule came to us over a year ago after being left behind at a sale barn. He was rescued by Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation (Kendalia, TX) and was quarantined and transported here by our friends at Glue Factory Renegades (Sunset, TX). 
We’ve observed Buddy hanging out more with the donkeys lately. When it’s time to feed, we spread out their portions across four troughs so they all have enough room to eat and don’t fight over the food as much. But Buddy knows which trough is his all right! I lay down his food first so he can start eating and not disturb and bully the others. Sometimes, Jules the John donkey will run over to pilfer some of Buddy’s food but he only gets a mouthful before the much larger Buddy runs him off!
People often ask us what the difference is between a donkey and a mule. Well, donkeys (also called asses or burros) are their own distinct species, linked originally to the African wild ass (Equus africanus). There are various subspecies and separate species of donkeys as well. Donkeys are related to horses but are a distinct species. 
Donkeys are hardy stock and like mules will outlive a horse. In fact donkeys live 40 years or more if well taken care of. Donkeys are also very intelligent and cautious. Their caution is often mistaken for stubbornness, as they are always on the look-out for danger. In general, donkeys are smaller than horses, with the exception of their ear size which is just huge compared to horses. 
A mule, on the other hand, is actually a hybrid animal that is the result of the mating of a male donkey and a female horse. You may wonder what you get when you mate a female donkey with a male horse… That is called a “hinny,” not a mule. Both mules and hinnies are hard-working and sturdy animals and generally tougher than a horse. But they cannot themselves reproduce. That is to say that all mules (and hinnies) are sterile.  
Mules are typically larger than donkeys. And like donkeys, mules live longer than horses. Mules tend to have more affinity for horses, considering the mothers of mules are horses and that’s who raises a mule.  Hinnies, on the other hand tend to both emulate and socialize with donkeys more than horses, probably because they are raised by female donkeys (Jennies). 
Stay tuned for more news on Buddy the mule. We will see if the donkeys can have a calming affect on him so eventually he will befriend us humans.

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