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"This kindly, gentle eyed, velvety nosed, radar eared, non-aggressive creature has been man's uncomplaining companion and burden bearer throughout all history."
~ Donkeys of the West, William G. Long, 1974
One of the hardest working, most misunderstood, and often most mistreated of animals, the donkey has been a critical and essential working animal for at least 5000 years. Of the more than 40 million donkeys in the world, about 96% are in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as pack animals or for draught work in transport or agriculture. Although donkeys have a notorious reputation for stubbornness, this has been attributed to a much stronger sense of self-preservation than exhibited by horses. It is considerably more difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it perceives to be dangerous for whatever reason. Although formal studies of their behaviour and cognition are rather limited, donkeys appear to be quite intelligent, cautious, friendly, playful, and eager to learn. Hee Haw!
World Donkey Day and Week was created to pay homage to a creature who has played and still plays a pivotal role in the rural economy and urban goods transport in many parts of the world.
While donkeys (Equus asinus) display many horse-like characteristics, they are more closely related to wild asses which originated in Africa and parts of Asia. Donkeys were brought to Australia from 1866 for use as pack and haulage animals. Until that point, Australians had been using the horse as their main mode of transportation. However, problems arose when the horses used in transportation began to become sickened by some of the native poisonous plants. When hardy donkeys proved invulnerable to the native plants, more were brought in. Escape was common because of the lack of fences, and there were reported herds of feral donkeys by the 1920s.
This tartan was commissioned by Australian donkey breeders to recognise all breeds of donkeys and to commemorate their assistance with man throughout history. This tartan was officially released on the 4th of October 2006, the Feast of St Francis, patron Saint of animals. For more about Australia's wild donkeys, click the picture above.
Or visit the wonderful UK site The Donkey Sanctuary.