The word “burro” is derived from the Spanish word “borrico,” meaning donkey. Originally from Africa, burros were introduced to the Desert Southwest by the Spaniards in the 1500s. Most of America’s wild burros reside in Arizona, where they have been present since 1679 when Jesuit priest Padre Eusebion Kino brought them to the Spanish mission at San Xavier del Bac near what is now Tucson. Burros were utilised by explorers and pioneers – in the 19th century Gold Rush years burros were used primarily in the Southwest as pack animals for prospectors. Wild Burros have long ears, a short mane and come in a variety of colours, from black to brown to grey to red roan, pink and blue. The most common colouring is grey with a white muzzle and white underbelly. The burros’ African ancestors evolved into two groups distinguished by their markings. The Nubian Wild Ass has a dorsal stripe and a horizontal stripe across the shoulders, forming a cross. The Somalian Wild Ass has leg stripes. These ancient markings can still be seen today in wild burros and domestic donkeys.
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