October 26, 2012 - Mule Day

On this date in 1786, the first Spanish Jacks (male donkeys) arrived in the United States, a gift from the King of Spain. George Washington (not yet President of the U.S.) began to breed these donkeys with his female horses. And so began the history of mules in America.
Did you know that daddy mules and mommy mules don't breed to make baby mules? Mules cannot reproduce but are instead are created by horse-donkey breeding. What I didn't know is that mules are created when male donkeys and female horses are bred, and the result of female donkeys and male horses is called a hinny. Hinnies tend to look just like mules, and are also sterile (which means that they cannot reproduce or make babies).

Notice: there are male mules and female mules, and there are male hinnies and female hinnies.

Why would anyone want mules in a world that already has horses and donkeys?

Well, mules tend to be stronger than donkeys and more resistant to disease than horses. Actually, the fact that they are sterile is helpful in some situations—you don't have to worry about animals getting pregnant and giving birth—and may lead to mules' reputation of being tougher and more reliable than horses or donkeys. Mules are being used in Afghanistan by U.S. armed forces, carrying supplies to places where helicopters and Humvees cannot easily go.
Learn more about mules at Saito's Dojo

Also on this date:

Frankenstein Friday 

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