The Poitou comes from the Equus asinus species and is – basically – a donkey with dreadlocks. The Poitou was bred exclusively to be used in the breeding of mules (one of the traditional activities of the region) and as such was exported throughout the world in numbers.
However, the success story of the Poitou was destined not to last. With the advent of industry and mechanized farming, the call for the Poitou declined and as demand fell, so did the numbers of this amazing looking beast.
In 1977 a survey revealed that there were only twelve stallions (the locals call them baudets) and thirteen mares (likewise, known as anesses) left.
Local authorities, keen to retain this unique but vestigial remnant of local history, together with the French National Parks, breeders and scientists, joined together to create a studbook.
Thanks to this program there are now over one hundred Poitous of each gender in their native region alive and well and ready to breed some more. Worldwide there are around a thousand.
Ah…it’s nice to hear a story with a happy ending ever now and then, isn’t it?