Animal Database

Hi Homo sapien! Welcome to Animal Database! Anyway, did you know that you're 60% genetically similar to banana trees?


Animal Database
Animal Database
Somali Wild Ass
Somali wild ass-Equus asinus somalicus
Range Southern Red Sea region of Eritrea, the Afar Region of Ethiopia, and still in Somalia
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Perissodactyla
Family Equidae
Genus Equus
Species E. africanus
Conservation Status
Critically Endangered

The Somali wild ass (Equus africanus somaliensis) is a subspecies of the african wild ass. It is found in the Southern Red Sea region of Eritrea, the Afar Region of Ethiopia, and still in Somalia. The legs of the Somali Wild Ass are horizontally striped with black, resembling those of a zebra. Their bodies change a different shade of gray depending on the season.

Current Distribution and Habitat[]

There are likely less than 1000 animals (or even 700) in the wild and the IUCN Red List of endangered species described it as "critically endangered". This means they face an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

A few hundred animals live in Ethiopia as well as in Eritrea. There might be still some in Somalia, most likely in the stable Somaliland region. Wars and food competition with domesticated animals and the local human population, as well as decreasing food and water sources diminished wild population – extremely in the past few years.


Global Population[]

As of 2011, there are about 200 individuals in captivity around the globe living in 34 zoos, as well as three animals in Hai-Bar, Israel (as of 2009). The international studbook is managed by Tierpark Berlin.

Zoo Basel[]


Somali Wild Ass at Zoo Basel

The leading zoo for breeding this rare ass is Zoo Basel, Switzerland. Its breeding program manages the European studbook for the Somali wild ass and coordinates the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) as well as the global species committee of the Somali Wild Ass since 2004.

Basel started having Somali wild asses in 1970 and had its first birth in 1972. Since then, 11 stallions and 24 females (as of 2009) were born and survived childhood[9] Today, all Somali wild donkeys in captivity are related to the original group at Zoo Basel.

As of January 18, 2012, there are four Somali wild donkeys in Basel: The stallion "Gigolo" (3) and three females (among them "Yogala"-14)"


Domestic donkeys found in Italy are typically descended from the Somali wild ass, as opposed to those from other European countries where domesticated stock are usually descended from the nubian wild ass.


A conservation project (mainly supported by Zoo Basel) in the East-African country of Eritrea counts 47 Somali wild asses living in the mountains between the Buri Peninsula and the Dalool ditch.

A protected population of the Somali wild ass exists in the Yotvata Hai-Bar Nature Reserve in Israel, to the north of Eilat. This reserve was established in 1968 with the view to bolster populations of endangered desert species.


Somali wild asses are herbivores and will eat almost any sort of plant including acacia bushes which have thorns. Since they live in the desert, Somali wild asses are able to go without water for several days.