Donkeys… Where do I start?!
There is so much to tell and, if you’ve ever chatted to me at the sanctuary, you'll know just how much I love to talk about donkeys (and mules)! But, I think, let’s start with talking about the two most common stereotypes of donkeys; that they are stubborn and stoic. Is that really true? Let’s find out...
Donkeys are known for being "stubborn"… but they really are NOT stubborn and I will argue with anyone who says otherwise! Donkeys are incredibly clever and humans often simply don’t understand a donkey and so labels them stubborn because the donkey doesn’t immediately want to do exactly as they say. Let’s think about that for a moment… Do you do something immediately just because you were told to? I hope your answer is no! Well then, why should a donkey? Should they not be allowed to think for themselves? Donkeys are incredible problem solvers - they love to think and figure things out for themselves - they don’t need a human to tell them! Although donkeys are incredible problem solvers, it doesn’t mean their brains work the same way as ours do. A donkey needs time to think, - they see and interact with the world differently than we do and therefore they process things differently. Donkeys simply need to be given time to process the world as they see it... They aren’t stubborn, they are simply thinking!
Donkeys are also known for being incredibly stoic - this, I agree with. Now, if we consider the fact that donkeys are naturally a prey species, this starts to make sense. Many prey species hide illness or weakness in an attempt to fool predators - it’s an important survival technique to pretend you are okay so you are less likely to be singled out by a predator and have time to heal. This means that if a donkey is visibly in pain, they are actually hurting a lot! They will do everything they can to hide their pain, so if it’s bad enough for you to see it, it really, really hurts. This can make caring for donkeys incredibly difficult, as, by the time they visibly show signs of illness, it can already be too late. To know if a donkey is in pain before it is too late, you need to really know the individual. I’ll come back to this in a moment, but, put simply, donkeys are unique and you must know an individual very well to have any hope of spotting pain before it’s too much or too late.
Unfortunately, the stoic nature that is ingrained into donkey DNA, opens them up to a huge amount of cruelty, exploitation and abuse. If they don't visibly show pain until it becomes unbearable, how do you know if their load is too heavy, if their legs are sore, if their backs hurt, if their teeth are sharp and painful, if they are thirsty or if they are just too tired… I could go on, but I think you see my point. Donkeys are abused all over the world and people don’t even realise. We must take time to learn about these incredible animals so that we can care for them properly and educate others, so that donkeys can be donkeys and not spend their lives suffering in pain. Donkeys should not be exploited simply because their stoic nature allows people to take far more from them than they ever should. I’ll repeat myself - spend some time with donkeys and they will show you just how special they are and how much they deserve to live a life of happiness, care and love.
So, let’s talk about the donkey’s true nature. So many people think they are these solemn, stubborn animals that just stand with ears down and a long face, when in reality they are the complete opposite! Donkeys are full of life, full of energy, full of mischief, full of curiosity, full of love, full of compassion and so much more. The reason they are misunderstood is because they are abused, overworked and in often in so much pain, that this is seen as normal. Well, I’d like to tell you this is NOT normal! Every single donkey has a completely unique personality. None are the same, barely even similar actually. The only single word I could use to describe donkeys is "unique" and no other description would come close to doing them justice.
If you stick with me and my blog posts, I hope you will start to understand the true nature of donkeys.
P.S. One more thing I would like to say is that donkeys LOVE to play! Young, old, male, female - it doesn’t matter, they just love to play. I can’t speak for all donkeys, but for Flicka's donkeys the wellington boot is definitely the favourite toy!