To get a handle on its mule deficit, Cuba is undertaking a national census of the long-eared equids, their daily newspaper reported.

"The paper reports the country might be some 8,000 [mules] in the red (pardon the pun)," said the Miami New Times.  

Mules are crucial for the transport of coffee, cocoa, and other agricultural staples in the country's mountainous areas. The hardy hybrids are generally sterile.

Officials will carry out the census between March 1 and 10.

Archaeologists have discovered that many of the hundreds of terracotta horses unearthed from the mausoleum of Qinshihuang were geldings--suggesting that the procedure might have been practiced on real horses when the statues were created during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC).

"These indicate that castration of animals was prevalent more than 2,000 years ago," the researchers said.

All the 520 horses that pulled chariots in the terracotta army were gelded, while some of the 116 cavalry horses were not.

Read more from China Daily.