If you are like me, and love donkeys, you will be delighted to know that there are over 40 million of these delightful animals in the world. In underdeveloped countries, they are mostly used as draugh (draft) or pack animals. There are various names associated with donkeys:
Male donkey…..jack. Female donkey……jenny or jennet young….foal Jack donkeys may be bred with horses to product mules.
Their wonderful personality has given rise to warm names: cuddy (Scotland), Neddy (England) and burro (Spain/Mexico). His perky long ears can hear sounds over 3 km and help to keep him cool. Her bray or loud calling can last for twenty-second, keeps her in touch with other donkeys. They have a life span of between 30-50 years.
Donkeys Stubborn? Lazy? How about -misunderstood?
Donkeys have gained a reputation for stubbornness, but scientists reveal that a donkey has a stronger sense of ‘self preservation’ than exhibited by horses. A horse can be encouraged or forced to cross a stream by a rider. The donkey has a strong prey instinct and a weaker connection with man. The donkey needs to know that the stream is safe for it. If the human guides the donkey to the stream and provides the donkey with a sense that all is well, the donkey will comply.
Religion, Myths and Stories:
**The donkey was the symbol of the Egyptian sun-god, Ra, as well as the Greek god, Dionysus.
**They were measured as wealth in Old Testament (Torah) Genesis. 30
**Jesus rode into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Matt.21:4-7)
** In the Jewish religion, donkeys are not a kosher animal and thereby “unclean.”
**Donkey hairs were considered ‘holy’ (as the animal Jesus rode) and used to cure illnesses such as measles and whooping-cough.
**Hindu and Islamic writing tell stories of donkeys.
**Aesop’s Fables are not kind to donkeys, and Shakespeare in a “Midsumemr’s Night Dream features a character “Bottom” to appear in an ass’s custome denoting stupidity.
In contrast, in later years, Cervantes’ Don Quixote, shows a more positive slant on the donkey, portraying them as steady and loyal companions. This difference is possibly due to donkeys being an important aspect of many Spaniards’ lives at this point in time.
As an aside, it is the Democratic Party in the USA, whose symbol is the Donkey, that has improved the lives by passing laws against segregation, and laws passed to help the poor and grant equality to women and gays. If you live and own donkeys and would like a visit from a couple of Canadians – contact me. WE’LL BRING THE CARROTS.
There is a wonderful book, “The Wisdom of Donkeys” by Andy Merrifield. Reading and walking with Andy and his donkey through France is a treat for the mind and soul. I just love this book and I know I will re-read it many times.