Breaking News
More () »

2 The Outdoors: Don't underestimate the intelligence of Donkeys

Whispering River Animal Rescue offers both sanctuary and education on these misunderstood animals.

GASPORT, N.Y. — Throughout human history, we have assigned certain qualities to animals, some accurate, others not so much. We have described owls as wise, and bats, wolves, and snakes as fearsome and evil.

Donkeys have been looked at as stubborn and stupid. Laura Randolph, VP and Barn Manger of Whispering River Animal Rescue says that could not possibly be further from the truth.

"If they don't feel safe, they don't move so people think they're just being stubborn, but realistically, they're thinking out every possible avenue of what could happen to them.  So it's a safety instinct, it's a survival instinct for them."

Credit: Terry Belke
Whispering River Animal Rescue saves donkeys from auction and offers them for adoption.

As with so many animals, donkeys have deep emotional lives and feel those sensations as much as we do. 

"Their emotions far exceed what people realize," Randolph explains. "They hurt, they feel, they know. We've had losses here and other donkeys have picked up on it. They have a bonded mate, and that mate passes away, they'll grieve, they truly do grieve."

They are also very curious about the world around them and form bonds with humans as well. 

"Sometimes a human will come in," Randolph says. "And they're like, I'm drawn to this particular donkey, and that donkey feels the same way, you'll see an immense bond between the two of them."

Credit: Laura Randolph
Donkeys' intelligence is reflected in their curiosity about the world around them.

Knowing all of this makes their often cruel treatment that much more unconscionable. Whispering River Animal Rescue in Gasport saves donkeys from the appalling fate of equine auctions.

Although the slaughter of horses and donkeys is illegal in the US, animals are sold here and shipped to other countries to meet a sorry fate. 

"They're heartbreaking. We follow some of the pages online because some of them are done online, they're online auctions so we see some of the videos, we just look at these guys...they look defeated."

Credit: Terry Belke
Many animals have found forever homes because of Whispering River Animal Rescue.

Whispering River adopts their donkeys to loving homes. Randolph hopes their work will change many minds. "We hope with the stories that we share, and what we do and what we get out to the community, we're starting somewhere, and then from there, they can pass it along."

Whispering River is holding a fundraiser on Saturday, December 10th. For more information on both the fundraiser and adoptions, click here.


Before You Leave, Check This Out