A jenny is a female donkey; a jack is a male. Donkey itself is an 18th-century word, and originally rhymed with monkey.
A male donkey and a female horse may give birth to a mule; a male horse and female donkey make a hinny.
William Thackeray once referred to a donkey by the word 'cardophagus', meaning 'thistle-eater'. Robert Louis Stevenson, in his Travels With a Donkey, reported that the correct word to encourage a donkey to move faster is 'Proot!'
In 2000, a Turkish man was reported to have tried three times to cure his sexual impotence by begging doctors to transplant a penis from a donkey on to him. When he brought a donkey home for the third time, his family were so annoyed with the man that his son shot him in the leg.
A donkey named Monika was finally retired from the Mariinsky ballet in St Petersburg, Russia, in 2008 after having spent 19 years performing in the ballet Don Quixote. At her farewell party, Monika danced a waltz with one of the Mariinsky's ballerinas and was presented with retirement gifts of carrot cake, a pinafore and a kerchief.
In the same year, A donkey was jailed in southern Mexico for assault and battery after it bit and kicked two men near a ranch in Chiapas state, police. A police spokesman said the donkey would remain in jail until its owner agreed to pay the men's medical bills. "Around here, if someone commits a crime they are jailed," Mr Gomez said, "no matter who they are."
In 2009, Colchester Borough Council in England stopped giving out free recycling sacks after one was photographed being used as a saddlebag on a donkey in Spain.
It has often been claimed that more people are kicked to death by donkeys than die in aircraft accidents, but that is based entirely on a report issued by the US Air Force in 1947 which limited its donkey death statistics to a short period in one small area of the United States. There are no reliable figures for worldwide donkey-kick fatalities.
In 2006, the world donkey and mule population, according to the Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, was 52,548,655.