Zoo #35 – Somali Wild Ass

Forlorn Somali Wild Ass –
A kind of mini-horse –
Critically endangered,
So in the zoo, of course.

A diet of leaves and grasses,
They barely need to drink,
If they weren’t so bloody tasty
There’d be many more, I think.

So very few are out there,
The African plains bereft,
The humans in the neighbourhood
Eat all that there are left.

They haunt the arid desert,
A landscape filled with rocks;
They look just like a donkey,
But they wear a zebra’s socks.

No longer will you find them
Out in the wild for sure:
They still remain a wild ass,
But Somalian no more.

A new reader to this fol-de-rol (also friend and employer – I know, a charmed life) suggested this particular animal for a rhyme and I said ‘Sure’, without actually knowing anything about them at all.  As usual, Google (after an unproductive, but diverting few minutes on ‘Images’) came to my rescue.  Somali Wild Ass are, as the poem says, critically endangered, with just a few hundred left in the wild, spread, in fact, across Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  As far as I can see, their only predator is man.  They are to all intents and purposes a donkey; in fact, according to what I read, all Italian donkeys are descended from them.  (I have to own up here, I had no idea that Italy was a hotbed of donkey eugenics, nor that its donkey population had been kept distinct from that in the rest of Europe; to be honest, I’m surprised the EU even allows it.  Surely there must be some kind of a Euro-donkey edict out there somewhere.  I can only imagine that the Franco/German donkeys are in some way superior – at least, I’m sure they believe they are.)  They are amazing creatures that are supremely adapted to conserve water.  The females maintain a higher temperature than the males so that they sweat less – a trait only otherwise seen in Gwyneth Paltrow.  Visually Somali Wild Ass differ from other donkeys only in that they appear to be wearing pyjama trousers – a throwback to the zebras with which they are closely related.  Presumably where they come from they didn’t need to camouflage anything above grass level.  I will have to research if the lions are particularly tiny in Somalia (if, indeed, they have them*).  They do, of course, have humans and they are extremely unlikely to be deceived by the fact that the Sunday roast is tottering about on invisible legs.  One way or another, it would appear that the Somali Wild Ass has reached a population in the wild, so badly denuded as to be unsustainable and, as such, probably something that your children will be able to see only in the zoo, whilst Wild Ass burger fans will have to be content with the farmed stuff…

*They do.  Also cheetahs and hyenas – so why evolution decided to protect the Wild Ass from the knees down only I have no idea.    

12 thoughts on “Zoo #35 – Somali Wild Ass

  1. I’m sorry, My puerile instincts got the best of me at, “Wild Ass burger fans.” Maybe they could give the Somali pirates jobs protecting them and thus keep the pirates off the streets…er…seas.

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  2. I thought I’d look at this from a more human POV. Don’t know why. But don’t all gods man and beasts have faults. L
    Yer my Jenny, I’m yer Jack,
    So why’s our foals feet white and black?
    Jen, ‘ave you been trotting round behind my back?
    ‘Ave you lost yer moral compass?
    Has that randy Zebra made a pass?
    No accidents on a Zebra crossing my ass!

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  3. Wow this is good stuff. I think they’re only camouflaged from the knees down because cheetahs are very superstitious and won’t attack an animal it thinks is floating above the grass.
    Laugh Now! You can be crabby anytime

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