Donkeys (Equus asinus) have served as working animals for at least 5000 years. Their domestication,
initially in the surroundings of Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Syria, transformed early pastoral societies and
ancient states, enabling people to move farther and more frequently, facilitating food production
and distribution and expanding trade in Africa and Asia (Rossel at al., 2008). Adapted to dry
conditions and carrying heavy loads, they spread around the globe and helped to build and organize
early cities. Throughout the centuries, donkeys and mules continued to play an essential role in rural
and urban communities, sometimes for leisure, mostly for work (over 95% of the cases, according to
Starkey and Starkey, 2004). But what is the place for donkeys in the modern - and motorized - world?
And how do veterinary and animal sciences address this subject?

Donkeys world population is estimated at nearly 46 million in 2017 (FAO, 2020). Part of them still are
largely employed for transport and traction, especially in developing communities. Another part,
considered to have “no use”, is subjected to abandon and end up as free roamers in roads and
villages. In recent years, reports that donkeys have also served as a source of meat and skin,
supplying often-illegal chains of international trade, did create tremendous concerns regarding the
survival of this species. In all of these cases, concerns about animal welfare, sanitary conditions,
zoonosis, economics, biosecurity, breeding and species conservation are highly present, mainly when
the interconnexions with public health and safety are recognized.

The situation imposes a great challenge to scientists worldwide – and particularly in the Northeast of
Brazil. In order to show how research on donkeys is advancing in many different contexts, this special
issue of BJVRAS invites papers addressing a large range of areas, as Basic Sciences, Pathology, Clinic,
Surgery, Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Animal Reproduction, Animal Welfare, Animal Nutrition
and Production. Submissions must be made in English, until August 31th 2020, in one of the following
text forms: full article, review article, preliminary note or case report. Papers will be peer-reviewed
for publication late 2020. Guidelines for authors are found here: