Humans wouldn’t be where they are today if it wasn’t for donkeys. Their species has built civilisations on their backs. But little is known about these loyal and courageous creatures. Only by recognising their valiant past can we free them from a grim reality.
Evidence of donkeys’ ubiquitous influence can be traced as far back as 3000 BC. Excavations reveal that Egyptians may have been the first to domesticate these animals. African wild donkeys, ancestors of the modern donkey, were used to carry cargo on lengthy trade routes which helped establish the ancient dynasty’s wealth. Ten donkeys were even discovered buried in high-ranking graves.
After discovering the value of these creatures, people came to rely on them for menial and back-breaking tasks in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Unlike horses, donkeys don’t scare easily. When in a dangerous situation they won’t flee, but rather investigate the situation, earning them their stubborn reputation. This made them indispensable in World War One, where they carried supplies and wounded soldiers on battlefields thundering with explosives and rifles.
Donkeys continue to play a crucial role in our lives. They are the backbone of most rural and farming communities, and help support and empower households. But despite their unwavering commitment to humans, they are seen as foolish and stupid. Their work in underdeveloped regions has debased them as low-status animals. This perception has become the primary contributor to their poor quality of life, with many being mistreated, starved, and abused.
Fortunately, organisations like Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in the United States, The Donkey Sanctuary in the United Kingdom, and Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary in South Africa are dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming donkeys in need. Intelligent creatures, they can remember faces and places for up to 25 years. A calm and kind disposition also makes them ideal companions and therapy animals. Donkeys have proven their loyalty to humans for centuries. It's time that we give them the respect they deserve.