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.”
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.
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.
It’s National Mule Day. Let’s pay tribute to this multi-faceted and much used equine.
National Mule Day is recognized each year on October 26.
A mule is a hybrid cross between a male donkey and a female horse. The mule possesses the strength, intelligence, patience, perseverance, endurance, surefootedness and even temper of the donkey.
Did you know that George Washington played a significant role in the development of the mule population in America? He recognized the value of the sturdy animal in agriculture and became the first American breeder.
It didn’t take long before mules found a place in the grim business of war. A mule’s hide and hooves are tougher than a horse’s, and endure heat better. They carry heavier loads for longer distances, and eat a third less than horses doing the same work. 
In the second half of the 20th century, widespread usage of mules declined in industrialized countries. The use of mules for farming and transportation of agricultural products largely gave way to modern tractors and trucks.
However, in the United States, a dedicated number of mule breeders continued the tradition as a hobby and continued breeding the great lines of American Mammoth Jacks started in the United States by George Washington with the gift from the King of Spain of two Zamorano-Leonés donkeys.
Hobby breeders began to utilize better mares for mule production until today’s modern saddle mule emerged. Exhibition shows where mules pulled heavy loads have now been joined with mules competing in Western and English pleasure riding, as well as dressage and show jumping competition.
There is now a cable TV show dedicated to the training of donkeys and mules. Mules, once snubbed at traditional horse shows, have been accepted for competition at the most exclusive horse shows in the world in all disciplines.
Mules are still used extensively to transport cargo in rugged roadless regions, such as the large wilderness areas of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains or the Pasayten Wilderness of northern Washington state.
Commercial pack mules are used recreationally, such as to supply mountaineering base camps, and also to supply trail building and maintenance crews, and backcountry footbridge building crews.
As of July 2014, there are at least sixteen commercial mule pack stations in business in the Sierra Nevada. The Angeles chapter of the Sierra Club has a Mule Pack Section that organizes hiking trips with supplies carried by mules.
Amish farmers, who reject tractors and most other modern technology for religious reasons, commonly use teams of six or eight mules to pull plows, disk harrows, and other farm equipment, though they use horses for pulling buggies on the road.
During the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the United States used large numbers of mules to carry weapons and supplies over Afghanistan’s rugged terrain to the mujahideen. Use of mules by U.S. forces has continued during the War in Afghanistan (2001-present), and the United States Marine Corps has conducted an 11-day Animal Packers Course since the 1960s at its Mountain Warfare Training Center located in the Sierra Nevada near Bridgeport, California.
Three darling mules mug for the camera. From Grit.com. Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com/Claudia Nardemann.