The Poitou Donkey is a breed of donkey originating in the Poitou region of France. One of the most distinctive donkey breeds, it is also among the rarest and least-known. As with many ancient breeds, the origins of the Baudet de Poitou are somewhat obscure. The Roman Empire is said to have introduced the donkey and the practice of mule breeding to the Poitou region of France from which the Baudet de Poitou takes its name. According to the Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute, "From only 44 animals (worldwide) counted in 1977, there are now an estimated 400 to 600 pure and part-bred animals in the world today.