I recently saw a video of a group of donkeys grieving over the death of a herd member. It was so touching to hear the group braying, inspecting the body and very visibly displaying their concern and grief.

The intelligence and awareness of this long domesticated species is so evident that it elicits compassion and sorrow in we humans as we watch it.

Sadly, the donkey, one of mankind’s earliest domesticated mammals, has been greatly unappreciated. Despite its versatile and strenuous role, we still say “ass” to describe members of our own species who seem to be unintelligent, stupid, unreasonable, and insensitive.

Throughout human history, the donkey has been overworked, abused, and insulted despite its ability, agility and versatility.

Even today, mostly in more primitive societies, we see grossly overladen donkeys carrying enormous loads on their backs or pulling huge loads.

The donkey, and its hybrid descendant, the mule, are largely unappreciated and disparaged by humans. Except, of course, by those persons who have the experience, the perceptivity, and the intelligence to see that poor creature’s values.

I have only owned one donkey but after a lifetime of caring for and working with every conceivable species of animals, I have great admiration for, and respect for, the donkey. It was that feeling that led to my involvement with the mule industry, and the reason that, every May, my wife and I attend Bishop Mule Days, California’s great mule show. Sadly, due to the Corona Virus Pandemic, the event has been cancelled until May of 2021.