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Do Donkeys Make Good Pets?

Meet Squirrel, my honky-tonk donkey! I have been keeping donkeys as pets since I was a child and I’ve found them to be kind, gentle and loving souls.

As with all my pets, Squirrel has a story. She was a rescue out of the bush where she had to fend for herself. She is terribly old and only has one ear (I don’t know the story behind that). Squirrel landed with her butt firmly in the proverbial butter when she joined my family. She now lives in a stable with her name on the door, is groomed and her ear wound seen too regularly, gets fed twice a day and is the first of the animals to set off the “feed me” alarm at 6am and again at 3.30pm. So do donkeys make good pets? In my humble opinion the answer is yes.


Jaco has always been a nervous rider with little to no experience! Gradually his confidence is growing although he does prefer a motorbike!! Squirrel’s bestie is Sheryll, a miniature horse rescue who has a story of her own to tell.


Did you know that donkeys can live up to 50 years? They are highly intelligent with incredible memories, in fact a donkey can recognize an area as well as donkey friends they last saw 25 years ago! They are very strong, stronger than a horse of the same size.

Donkeys are not easily startled and have a keen sense of curiosity. They don’t like to live on their own however a single donkey will quite happily cohabit with horses, cattle, sheep or goats. Farmers often use them to look out for their live-stock when it comes to predators. Donkeys are fairly independent in their thinking and will make decisions based on their safety.

Their reputation for stubbornness precedes them due to their highly developed sense of self-preservation. For this reason it is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it sees as contrary to its own best interest. This is why training a donkey relies upon showing him or her, by words and action, that they can trust you to protect them from harm. They learn what it is we want them to do if we take time to show them.

Donkey with hat on


It’s difficult to come to terms with the fact that such a sweet natured largely domesticated animal is on the list of endangered species. This is thanks to a Chinese traditional medicine called ejiao. The demand for this medicine has sky-rocketed in the past few years and China’s need of five million donkey skins to keep up with demand has led to horrific scenarios, mainly in Africa where Donkeys are used in many walks of life as transport.

Read more here: Africa’s Donkeys Are Being Stolen and Slaughtered for Chinese Medicine


My very favorite party game as a child was “Pin The Tail On The Donkey“. This was handed down to my children and grandchildren at their birthday parties.

The game originated in 1887 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when a craze swept through the United States, called “Donkey Party.” 

It started as a a parlor game in which blindfolded, disorientated players tried to attach a tail to the right place on a picture of a donkey after being spun around at least three times. This fun, quick and exciting game soon became a firm favorite with children.

Because it is centered around a donkey, it is thought that the game must have begun on a farm.


In closing I leave you with a centuries old story, one to which philosophers have floundered over for all time and can seemingly never reach the same conclusion. What’s your take on “The Donkey”?

A man and his son were walking their donkey to market. They passed by a few old men drinking tea outside area-shop who started to laugh at them.

‘Look at those fools’ the old men said, ‘Don’t they know a donkey is for riding?’

The father felt embarrassed and lifted his son onto the donkey. A few minutes later they passed another group of men chatting by the side of the road. The men looked over and shook their heads, disapproving.

‘Do you see that?’ said one man to another, ‘That boy has no respect for his father. He rides on the donkey while his father walks.’

So the father told his son to get down, and climbed up onto the donkey himself. Before long, they passed a group of women.

‘That man should be ashamed of himself’ the women frowned, pointing. ‘He takes the donkey for himself and makes the poor boy walk.’

Straight away, the father pulled the boy up on the donkey with him. But just before they reached the market two people fishing in the river called out to them.

‘Hey, you two lazy oafs! Can’t you see you’re overloading that poor donkey? Donkeys aren’t big enough to carry two.’

Now the father and son just didn’t know what to do. They decided that they had no choice but to pick up the donkey and carry it. They had only gone a few steps when the donkey struggled and they all overbalanced and fell into the river. They managed to get to the bank and pull the donkey out, but arrived at the market soaking wet and with the laughter of the whole town ringing in their ears.

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