An exotic, long haired, long eared critter is the latest addition to the rare and unusual herd of equids at Florida’s Lowry Park Zoo, with the arrival of Geraldine the Poitou donkey.
Numbers of the critically endangered French breed in the world dropped to as low as 80 in 1980, but thanks to conservation efforts, those numbers are now around the 2500 mark. They were mainly used as draft animals, but demand declined with mechanisation and the breed nearly became extinct.
Poitou Donkeys are either black or brown with white bellies. They have large, long ears and long hair. In some northern climates, their long hair will form dreadlocks. The can grow as tall as six feet, from hoof to ear. They are docile and social.
Geraldine arrived at Lowry Park in Tampa earlier this month, from Brayfield’s Farm, which is owned by Tom Krueger. The six-year-old has been joined by a stablemate, Jelly Bean, a standard donkey.
“We were very happy to provide Geraldine to the Lowry Park Zoo so more people can see what wonderful animals they are,” Krueger said.
Geraldine and Jelly Bean have joined Lowry Park’s “Parade of Animals” every day at 11:30am and 2:30pm.
As well as French Poitou donkeys, his Brayfield’s Farm breeds registered Mediterranean miniature donkeys and standard donkeys.
Some other zoos that have French Poitou donkeys include Hamerton Zoo Park in England, the San Diego Zoo, Minnesota Zoo, Franklin Park Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo.
Founded in 2009, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is a 63-acre nonprofit zoo that is recognized by the State of Florida as the center for Florida wildlife conservation and biodiversity. It is also home to Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra and Grevy’s Zebra, both rare breeds.