Sep. 12, 2011 -- Although this Persian onager foal may look like a donkey, it's not. And beware: it can kick your ass (pun intended).
In fact, an ancient Roman catapult was called "the onager" because its recoil bore a striking resemblance to an angry onager kick.
This Persian onager foal, born Sept. 7, at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va. is a notable breeding success story since only about 600 remain in the wild. The species is extremely threatened in its native Iran, due to loss of desert habitat, poaching and competition with domestic livestock.
Twenty-six Persian onagers live in captivity in the U.S. And that number is holding steady, thanks to breeding programs.
Onager foals have a high mortality rate in the wild -- around 50 percent die. However, in captivity, the mortality rate is cut nearly in half.
But don't let the Persian onager's endangered status and high mortality rate fool you. The species is extremely hardy and known to withstand the inhospitable deserts where summer temperatures can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, they can also adapt to freezing winter temperatures by growing a curly fur coat.
Onagers are extremely fast and are thought to be the world's fastest wild equid. But they never made it to the race track (or the farm) because ancient civilizations were never able to domesticate them, according to the Smithsonian National Zoo.
The Persian onager eats low-growing plants and grasses, and occasionally, the salty soil itself. In the wild, they're known to stay close to watering holes.
When this foal grows up it will weigh between 475 and 600 pounds and stand more than 4 feet tall.