The Wild Asses of the Inland Empire

Out in a place called Moreno Valley California, on fringes where the suburbs give way to exurbs and then to the very beginnings of desert, there live herds of wild donkeys. (Donkeys are the same animals as asses; people just call asses by the other name so that they don't get uncomfortable).

To people who haven't heard about these animals, it sounds absurd. Herds of wild asses in the suburbs of Southern California? But it's true, and it's wonderful to find them here.

Every now and then I go check up on my favorite one of these herds. This one is a couple dozen strong, and roams the streets and fields in a place called Pigeon Pass.

This time, I found them in full flagrant Spring mode--cavorting and stomping and sparring for mates. Here are a couple of shots.

These "jacks" or male donkeys are sparring for a mate (or a "jenny".)

One of the jacks surrenders and runs away

The winner brays in triumph at the retreating ass

The winner gets to snuggle with his jenny.

If you want to visit and observe the wild asses of Moreno Valley, you can! Just be aware that these are wild animals, so it's not safe for either you or the animals to get too close. When the animals get habituated to humans, they end up getting killed for various reasons. And of course, they can kick or bite you. Also, be aware that there are laws against feeding or interacting with these specific herds. But, as long as you keep a healthy distance, you'll have a fascinating time watching these guys.