I came across this friendly Wild Burro munching on some palo verde at a horse ranch a couple years ago when I was in AZ. The little guy didn't seem to be bothered at all by tourists with cameras so I snapped a few shots and forgot about them until the other night when I was going through some images looking for interesting subjects to paint.
A little background on the Wild Burro: First introduced into the Desert Southwest by Spaniards in the 1500s, they range through a wide variety of desert habitats, as long as they are within 10 miles of drinking water. They they feed on a variety of of plants, including grasses, Mormon Tea, Palo Verde and Plantain. Although some moisture is provided by these plant materials, Wild Burros must have drinking water throughout the year.
Females give birth to one colt each year, which grows to an average weight of about 350 pounds. Since the Wild Burro has no natural predator, competitor or common diseases, most young burros reach maturity and may live as long as 25 years in the wild.
Early prospectors relied heavily on burros as they trekked long distances across the deserts in search of gold and silver. Many of these burros survived, even though their owners perished under the harsh desert conditions. Many more burros escaped or were released during the settlement of the West. Because of their hardiness, Wild Burros have thrived throughout the North American deserts, and their numbers have increased to perhaps 20,000.