Sunday, 24 January 2016

The forgotten donkey's history. Remarks on African wild asses of the Giardino Zoologico in Rome and their relevance for Equus africanus (von Heuglin & Fitzinger, 1866) taxonomy and conservation

Die Geschichte eines vergessenen Esels – Bemerkungen zu den im Giardino Zoologico in Rom gehaltenen Afikanischen Wildeseln und ihrer Bedeutung für die Taxonomie und Erhaltung von Equus africanus (von Heuglin & Fitzinger, 1866)


This paper reviews the history of African wild asses in the Giardino Zoologico of Rome, highlighting their relevance to taxonomy of Equus africanus (von Heuglin & Fitzinger, 1866). Specifically, it is demonstrated that the so-called Munich/Catskill stock of African wild ass originated from three animals imported in Rome from Eritrean Danakil in August 1932. Available evidence suggests that contrary to some recent statements, these ‘wild’ asses were not related to the Nubian wild ass and are better considered as the result of some intergradations between Somali wild asses and local Danakil donkeys.


  • Nubian wild ass;
  • Equidae;
  • Equus africanus africanus;
  • Eritrea