I’ve made no secret of the fact I know nothing about Donkeys. I may be able to fix a broken down 1970 MGB in the Australian outback, wrangle my way out of gun hold up in India and avoid being robbed while on a very dodgy train in Timbuktu, but donkeys, no absolutely no experience. So in preparation for my trip (where I will be let lose, on my own, with 3 of them) I’m learning as much as I can. I’ve adopted a donkey (Oscar, see my last blog posts to meet him), am reading books, visiting sanctuaries, talking to experts and generally trying to immerse myself into the donkey world as much as I possibly can. And as I do so I’m learning some amazing things. Here are 12 facts that I bet you didn’t know about donkeys:

  • There are approximately 45-66 million donkeys in the world, most are working animals
  • Most people aren’t educated in how to look after them though and this leads to a lot of mistreatment
  • Donkeys can go for up to 24 hours without water and are very efficient foragers
  • They can live for up to 50 years if well cared for
  • They are notoriously stubborn – this is mainly because they can’t run very fast. Therefore, they won’t put themselves in situations they aren’t sure about as they know if things go wrong they can’t outrun a predator or potential danger
  • When it comes down to fight or flight their instinct is to fight – and it’s not uncommon for donkeys to fight with each other
  • In Africa, they’re sometimes used as guard animals against big cats because of this
  • In general, donkeys like routine
  • Donkeys like to form friendships, and they get very attached to each other – therefore for the trek it’s best to get three donkeys that are used to being together. They are often known to form lifelong bonds
  • Donkey’s have amazing memories. Because they form such strong bonds it’s not unusual for them to recognise significant people or other donkeys after being away from them for years
  • Donkeys that are used to being worked are good walkers. Mistreated ones are not. I’ve been advised not to use rescue donkeys for this reason.
  • Donkeys grow until they’re about 5. They reach peak fitness at around 7 years old, therefore, this is the age donkeys I’m looking for for my trek.