Visitors to Zoo Heidelberg have a treat in store: a playful young Poitou Donkey. The boisterous little foal is male and was born at the end of June born to mother Resi, who is devoted to her baby. He is spirited, healthy and growing fast, thanks to a large appetite for his mother's milk.
The strange-looking contraption pictured below is the donkeys' grooming station. They love to rub up against the wire bristles; it gives them a great massage, scratches any annoying bug bites, and cleans off clumps of old fur from the long coats. If the grooming station is occupied, then their second favorite pastime is digging around in the dirt.
Poitou Donkeys are a originally from the Poitou-Charentes region of western France. They were bred to be a strong, hardy working animals, and were even used to pull fire-trucks before mechanization. In the 18th century, it was common to breed these donkeys with mares (female horses) to create patient and durable working mules. As use of machines for farming and transportation became commonplace, the number of Poitou Donkeys decreased significantly. We can still see these animals today because of targeted conservation measures with growers and regional conservation organizations.