Seventy-five percent of the world's 40 million donkeys live in Africa and Asia, and the other 25 percent live in the Americas, Australia and Europe. According to PawNation, China and Ethiopia have the world's largest donkey populations. Although donkeys are very adaptable, their general habitat tends to be rocky highlands or lowland deserts with warm, dry weather.
Most of the world's donkeys are domesticated work or companion animals, but there are wild donkeys in the horn of Africa and feral donkeys in the southwestern United States. Donkeys have been working for humans as pack animals for over 5,000 years, and in the developing world, their role is still prominent. Every day, millions of donkeys in Africa and Asia, and in parts of the rest of the world, carry water, pull trailers full of goods, and help to plow fields.
In the developed world, donkeys often serve as companion animals rather than pack animals. They are popular for use in therapeutic riding programs, where their quiet demeanor and patience makes them a perfect match for physically or mentally challenged riders. They also live as companions with horses. If a horse is lonely, it is often cheaper for its owner to buy a donkey than it is to buy a second horse.