Save the donkey, save the world

Published: September 9, 2010

Donkey keels over during transportation of goods in Karachi. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD NOMAN

Perhaps it is the fault of Eeyore, the manic-depressive donkey who would have benefited from a course of Prozac in AA Milne’s “Winnie the Pooh“, but the humble donkey has become a much-maligned animal. With an undeserved reputation for being stubborn and bad-tempered it is really their early handling and treatment that determines their temperament. In reality the donkey is a highly intelligent, curious, extremely level headed and gentle.

Donkeys have a reputation for stubbornness, but this is due to some handlers’ misinterpretation of their highly developed sense of self preservation. It is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest, as opposed to horses that are more willing. Although formal studies of their behaviour and cognition are rather limited, donkeys appear to be quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn. Once you have earned their confidence they can be willing and companionable partners in work and recreation.

Donkeys, like us humans, are extremely sociable and therefore need to be kept in the company of other animals, preferably other donkeys. If this isn’t possible then the owner should be prepared to spend as much time with them as possible for without attention these animals will soon fall into depression and become increasingly despondent.

The term “donkey years” is not a myth; they do live a very long time. Although they can average a life span of thirty years it is not unheard of for them to reach forty and beyond. Therefore when someone takes on the ownership of a donkey, they must also remember they are taking on a lifetime of responsibility. Unfortunately many people do not realize this, which is why there are so many unwanted and mistreated donkeys in Pakistan. However when properly cared for these charming creatures will reward you with devotion and a very special friendship, such as Eeyore’s.

In Pakistan, donkeys are ill treated and made to lift heavy loads and whipped ruthlessly, such a burden causes permanent damage to the animal. Millions of donkeys are mistreated and abused daily. Some are ill-treated through the ignorance of their owners, some are mistreated through cruelty, and others are simply ignored and forgotten about and it is heart-breaking to see donkeys being mistreated – they unlike humans have done nothing to deserve it.

It is indeed sad to know that the senseless people of Pakistan take their frustrations out on innocent animals when they really should be stoning and pelting those who rightly deserve it. Makes one feel that perhaps we get what we deserve.


Anushka Jatoi

A psychology graduate who is interested in literature and current affairs.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.