The refuge where donkeys can become guardians of livestock

A donkey looks out across Death Valley PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK MEYERS.
A donkey looks out across Death Valley PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK MEYERS.

Excerpted from “The Donkey Refuge Where Burros Become Coyote-Kicking Livestock Guardians“, by Abbey Perreault, Sept. 25, 2018, Atlas Obscura.

The plight of the American donkey is a strange one—the animal has been simultaneously federally protected and completely overlooked. — Mark Meyers

DESPITE SEVERAL LARGE removal efforts, “wild” donkeys, or burros, are abundant in the Mojave Desert. Seeking shade, they crowd beneath trees, buildings, and, on occasion, incredibly important NASA satellites. But donkey interference, as silly as it sounds, extends far beyond the day-to-day disruption of space scientists. According to Mark Meyers, executive director of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue (PVDR), there are too many donkeys in America, and we simply don’t know what to do with them.

“Places like Death Valley, the Mojave National Preserve, Fort Irwin, and the Naval Air Weapons Station [China Lake] all have giant donkey populations,” says Meyers. “There’s just no burro money to manage them.”

That’s where Meyers comes in. Peaceful Valley, the largest rescue organization of its kind, has recently been tasked with removing thousands of donkeys from national parks across the country. Meyers spends his days venturing into these donkey hot zones, catching them using humane water traps (an enclosed space with water, food, and no exit), and bringing them to his Texas headquarters.

But what does one do with tens of thousands of formerly feral donkeys? Historically, not too much. But Meyers and his team are working to change that.

At PVDR, donkeys are sorted, taken to donkey school, and given a new life, often as companion donkeys or pets. But burros with a wild side, it turns out, are huge boons for ranchers across the U.S. seeking effective, humane ways to protect their herds. With the help of PVDR, unwanted “wild” donkeys are becoming guardians, set out to pasture with goats, sheep, and even cattle, to keep them safe from predators.

Read all of this informative article »

PVDR Where Donkeys Become Protectors, pdf full article, 5 pp (no images)


Everyone knows Raymond: Last mule living with Outer Banks wild horses

Raymond and his harem. Posted online by Click to visit story.
Raymond and his harem. Posted online by

This is some story. “One wild mule found alive among wild horses on Outer Banks”. Have you read it? It’s from The Charlotte Observer. By Mark Price. July 18, 2018.

He staggered off into an island marsh and vanished last winter, leading conservationists to believe the last mule living among North Carolina’s wild coastal mustangs had died.

But Raymond, as locals call him, proved too stubborn to go quietly.

Not only has the once-crippled mule re-emerged on Corolla’s beaches, but he picked up a harem of three mares.

“He’s sterile, but he doesn’t know it and we’re not going to tell him,” says herd manager Meg Puckett. “He challenged a much younger stallion for those mares and he won. That’s saying a lot.”

Even she thought Raymond had died after a risky last-ditch effort was made in November to save him. A group of specialists with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund drugged Raymond and literally sawed down his hooves, which had become so deformed he couldn’t walk.

“A domestic horse would not have survived. He was just too stubborn to die,” Puckett says. “It’s that ornery, stubborn side that has made him one of the best known of the herd. Everyone knows Raymond.”

Islanders took to social media recently to celebrate the return of “the mule who thinks he is a mustang,” as Ann Litzelman put it on Facebook.

See also “Last Mule On Outer Banks So Stubborn He Refuses to Die” at who also posted the image above with their own story on Raymond.

Donkeys are under threat worldwide

Wild donkeys up for adoption in Hawaii. (Eugene Tanner/The Humane Society of the United States via AP)
Wild donkeys up for adoption in Hawaii. (Eugene Tanner/The Humane Society of the United States via AP)

Originally published by Horse & Man. Go there now »

By Cat Purdy | July 30, 2017

A donkey holocaust is under way around the world. The carnage began in China and now extends to nearly every continent on Earth.

The sought-after ingredient is called donkey hide gelatin, or ejiao (e-gee-ow) in Chinese. Made by boiling the hides of slaughtered donkeys, the resulting gelatin is used in a variety of products – facial creams, powders, and snacks. The largest percentage of these products are sold in China, but many can also be found on Amazon and Ebay.

Like bear bile, donkey hide gelatin has its origins in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and its use goes back thousands of years. Demand for the product has exploded due to an expanding middle class in China and state-sponsored advertising that promises benefits ranging from anti-aging to virility.

The use of animal products in TCM has a foothold in Chinese culture, but the scale of slaughter in this case is unprecedented. As China is running low on donkeys, it is reaching outside its own borders to meet the demand of 4 to 10 million donkey hides a year. The worldwide population of donkeys was estimated to be about 40 million some years ago. Obviously, this level of slaughter could result in near-extinction for donkeys in a matter of years.

Hides are being sourced from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South and Central America, threatening not only donkey populations in those countries but the local people who still depend on them. Some countries see this as an economic opportunity and have set up slaughterhouses to supply hides. Australia is considering exports.

At present, five countries have resorted to banning the export of donkey hides — Niger, Burkina Faso, Pakistan, Mali and Senegal. Black markets are still at work even in these countries, however. In Niger, for example, 65,000 donkeys a year are slaughtered illegally. In addition, the price of a donkey there has risen from $34 to $147, too high for most of the local people who need donkeys to work and to live.

The NSPCA (National Council of SPCAs Africa) said, “Over and above the horrendous cruelty to the donkeys, it is noted that individuals and communities are suffering, as their livelihoods and often their only means of transportation are being taken from them.” Theft and barbaric slaughter methods are on the rise. Donkeys have been skinned alive, bludgeoned to death, and transported for long distances without food, water or rest.

America’s so-called “excess” horses and donkeys currently go to Mexico for slaughter. In all likelihood, the number of donkeys sent to that country will increase, whether by legal or nefarious means, as Mexico is actively trading with China. Continue reading »

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Historically, China has had a long and horrible reputation concerning animal rights. The Western world does not have a lot to brag about in that regard itself, however it is reducing its use of animal products largely in part due to the increase in popularity of veganism and vegetarianism. In the reverse, the Chinese appear to be rapidly increasing in their cruel and deadly use of animals.


Why would a king ride a donkey instead of a warhorse?

JERUSALEM — Why would a king ride a donkey instead of a warhorse (Zechariah 9:9-10)? We have been debating the answer to this the past week or so. This is the answer we found most interesting because of its symbolic interpretations.

Many have wondered why the king mentioned in Zechariah 9:9-10 would ride a donkey into Jerusalem rather than a warhorse. It seems an odd choice for royalty. Kings ride chargers, don’t they?

In the ancient Middle Eastern world, leaders rode horses if they rode to war, but donkeys if they came in peace. First Kings 1:33 mentions Solomon riding a donkey on the day he was recognized as the new king of Israel. Other instances of leaders riding donkeys are Judges 5:10; 10:4; 12:14; and 2 Samuel 16:2.

The mention of a donkey in Zechariah 9:9-10 fits the description of a king who would be “righteous and having salvation, gentle.” Rather than riding to conquer, this king would enter in peace.

Zechariah 9:10 highlights this peace: “I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the war-horses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Note the many details symbolic of peace:

• “Take away the chariots”: an end to the main vehicle of war.
• “Take away . . . the war-horses”: no need for horses used in war.
• “The battle bow will be broken”: no need for bows or arrows for fighting.
• “He will proclaim peace to the nations”: His message will be one of reconciliation.
• “His rule shall be from sea to sea”: the King will control extended territory with no enemies of concern.

Jesus fulfills this prophecy of Zechariah. The worldwide peace proclaimed by this humble King will be a fulfillment of the angels’ song in Luke 2:14: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (NKJV). Significantly, Jacob’s blessing on his son Judah includes a reference to a donkey and a donkey’s foal (Genesis 49:11). Jesus is from the tribe of Judah.


Annie Wald, who was living on the west coast of Africa when she wrote The Speed of Love in 2013, writes:

Palms aren’t hard to find or expensive to buy here. In fact, palm trees are so commonplace the long branches are used to sweep the streets.

Yet I’ve never seen palms used for a festive occasion in this country. It makes me wonder how citizens would view using them to fete the arrival of someone important.

I have no doubt though what they would think about an acclaimed leader coming in on a donkey. They would see it as a dishonorable, even shameful act because a donkey is considered dirty and unclean. Used as a beast of burden, frequently overloaded and sometimes whipped, a donkey would not be worthy to carry such a person.

This is an image of donkeys Wald published with her post.

Donkeys on the West Cost of Africa. Annie Wald 2013.
Donkeys on the West Cost of Africa. Annie Wald 2013.

How is that we as humans come to view animals in the way we do? Why do we prize some and despise others? How do we go about selecting the animals we project our thoughts and feelings onto?

As we see on a regular basis equines can be viewed and treated by mankind as anything from royalty to garbage. It never ceases to amaze and all too often sadden us.

The triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey. From a fresco by GIOTTI on Pinterest.