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  • Jane Wheeler

Plight of the Donkeys


(Picture taken from The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada)


Donkeys are in danger of being wiped out!


I had no idea about this. Donkeys are not a huge factor in our way of life in North America, but in many countries they are a source of transportation, farming, hauling goods, they are used in the construction industry and transport people and are used in refuse collection. Donkeys can provide food, and milk.


I personally think donkeys have been given a bum wrap (pun totally intended as they are known as called “asses”).


Donkeys are very smart animals.

The donkey has an incredible memory – it can recognize areas and other donkeys they were with up to 25 years ago. Donkeys bond with other donkeys very well, they may bond with livestock but it must be done slowly and supervised.


Brian has often said he might borrow one of his friends’ donkeys and put it into the field with our cows in the spring as donkeys are fiercely territorial. They will fight off wild animals who try to come around. In many countries donkeys guard herds of sheep and goats.


Sadly, there now has to be donkey refuge centers in several countries of the world because there is a worldwide donkey crisis. Donkeys are being killed in the millions. The Donkey Sanctuary Charity has provided a way that you can sponsor a donkey for a certain amount of money a month to help give it the care and food it needs.

Canada has its’ own Donkey Sanctuary[1].


The Donkey Sanctuary[2] is an international animal welfare and rescue charity, their vision is: “Working towards a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering, and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.”


The question becomes, why are donkeys on their way to extinction?


The answer quite honestly and even more sadly is “China”.


In China for thousands of years a gelatin substance made from the hide of the donkey has been used in medicines, cosmetics, and food. It is thought to be a substance that gives health to the partaker. There is no scientific evidence for this but the making of it uses a lot of donkey hides, to the tune of 5,000,000, yes million, donkey hides per year are processed into this substance known as “ejiao”

( Picture from: bbc.com)


It has become so lucrative that donkeys are being stolen and kidnapped and then sold in the black market for their hides. Authorities come upon hundred even thousands of rotting carcasses, all stripped of their hides. Donkeys exposed to the black market are abused and neglected just like humans sold or transported through the black market. All that matters is getting the hide off the donkey and no one cares what condition the donkey (or human) is in when they get it, it is all about the almighty dollar.

Link to article in picture: https://www.nation.com.pk/06-Jun-2017/exporting-donkey-hides-to-china


Many countries have banned donkey exporting because it has caused huge hardships in some countries where donkeys are as familiar as our North American family dog. Uganda, Tanzania, Botswana, Niger, Burkina, Faso, Mali and Senegal have all banned donkey exports to China. Governments know that this trade is impoverishing their people as well as being massively cruel to the animals.


I read a story of a milk farmer in Africa who had Lucas his donkey for 14 years, Lucas used to pull the milk cart for the farmer every morning and then one morning, Lucas was gone. Stolen. The farmer told the story as tears dripped down his cheeks, Lucas was family and the only source of income this farmer had to get his milk to customers. Now his family suffers as he cannot pay his bills, nor send his children to school because of fees because he has to now “rent” a replacement donkey and that dips into his family’s income. The stealing of donkeys is bankrupting families in many parts of the world.


Donkeys take a year to give birth, so the replacement of one donkey is not a fast process and almost always donkeys give birth to one baby, rarely is there more than one baby.


Donkeys are a very smart animal and it made me think, why did God liken humans after “sheep” rather than donkeys…..? A good question to ponder.


There is a very famous story in the Bible of a talking donkey – do you know it?

It is found in the book of Numbers, 22:21-39


Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials.


But God was very angry when he went, (God had said no to Balaam) and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.


Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.


Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”


Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”


“No,” he said.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.


The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”


Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”


Balaams’ donkey saw into the spiritual, he was able to see the Angel of the Lord standing in front of him who had a sword out and was ready to cut down his master. The donkey did everything it could to save his master only to get beaten three times, and then God let the donkey speak.


Have you ever given thought to the fact that perhaps animals can see, or sense the spiritual world going on all around us, even if we cannot?


When we had our golden retrievers Buddy and Buster, Buster had a sense of something around us far more than Buddy did. When we went on walks, Buster would frequently be glancing behind, as if he heard something behind or with us. (Guardian angels?)


There was one particular lane I was not allowed to walk down in the little town I lived in. Buster would go so far and then sit down and not allow me to continue on. He sat, planted to the spot, he would not go further. We tried this lane several times with always the same result. The donkey story in the Bible reminds me of these experiences.


Jesus rode into Jerusalem and made His entrance on a donkey. Matthew 21:2, 5, Zechariah 9:9


The Bible talks about donkeys over 19 times. God even gives instructions to the Jewish people to let their ox and donkey rest on the Sabbath day for the animals well being. Exodus 23:12


God cares about people and He cares about animals too, even the donkeys.


Should we not follow suit and care about the plight of this sought after animal?


If you want more info on the worldwide donkey plight, please see the links below and consider supporting a donkey in one of the refuges.

[1] The Donkey Sanctuary Canada – link: https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.ca/ [2] The Donkey Sanctuary International – link: https: //www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/about-us/our-international-workk:

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