Horse News

Feel Good ‘Palm’ Sunday: The Plight of God’s Beast of Burden, the Donkey

By Marjorie Farabee of WHFF and TMR Rescue

“…the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly…”

Today of all days, I am struck by the hypocrisy of people who want the wild burros gone from their rightful lands. On this week of Christ’s trial and resurrection I am reminded of the humbleness of the donkey, and his designation in the Bible as the animal that represents peace. On this week, I think of the Bible stories that tell of the many roles played by the humble, peaceful donkey in Christ’s life and times. Throughout the Bible and also other religious texts, the donkey plays a major role. In the desert there could be no greater partner than the donkey who can survive four days without water and acted as a water diviner when allowed to follow their instincts. The donkeys carried goods and people great distances while needing little to survive. Even now, scientists are tracking donkey fossils to determine the spread of human civilization around the globe for they were always the chosen beast of burden carrying goods afar in trade.

Yes, we owe much to the donkey. Yet, the donkey asks for nothing in payment other than to be treated fairly. On the day Jesus was born a small donkey stood vigilant over the cradle of Jesus, and Balaam was warned by a donkey given speech to not betray the Jews. Then, on Palm Sunday the donkey rode into Jerusalem with Jesus aboard in a semblance of peace and servitude. Yet, now, everyday we read of violent acts committed against this kind animal. Jesus and God loved the donkey, yet today the wild donkeys are violently treated by hunters and game managers who call them pests and vermin. And, domestic donkeys are starved, beaten and treated with malice. These same people would most likely identify themselves as Christian without seeing the hypocrisy of their actions toward their own religion as they ask to remove donkeys by whatever means possible. They ask to issue hunting permits, and issue roundup orders. They ask to send these sublime animals given as a gift to all of us, to slaughter. And, now to add to all of the pressures on donkeys to survive we have the Chinese skin trade. It hurts my heart.

On this week of trial and resurrection my hope is that the donkey will rise again as a creature who is appreciated and understood in the way that he is by God. I pray that the humble donkey will at last be rewarded by finding a way to bring out what is good in all of us. At long last, a resurrection of the altruistic side of humankind might help people find it in their hearts to provide a small parcel of the planet where they can be safe with their families, wild and unharassed by violence. Or, safely in a warm stable munching hay. I think that on this week of trail and resurrection, Jesus looks down on His kingdom and weeps for the donkey He so loves, and is saddened at them being harmed by the humans He gave His own life to save.

There is a real sadness to His tears for all of us.

6 replies »

  1. It sure does appear these days that being a Christian has different meanings to different people – to some that description only applies to church-goers one day a week. I feel that the Golden Rule applies not only to humans, but to the other nations too!


    • I meant other species above but I feel the same about the shameful treatment of refugees from other countries. What happened to empathy and compassion in this country for those less fortunate?



    Spirit of the Burro

    Gentle and humble, the burro embodies patience, perseverance, endurance and the ability to carry overwhelming burdens for great distances. Like the majority of those who came to America with a dream, hoping for a future beyond their culturally destined fate as a “common man”, it was through their labor and toil that our Nation was built, brick by brick, stone by stone, through sheer tenacity, unyielding will and continuous sacrifice.

    Incredibly intelligent and wise, the wild burro is one of the most unappreciated and discarded of all of mankind’s animal tools, much like the “common man” himself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting to know that China is the driving force behind the deaths of so many donkeys worldwide, simply for a folk “cure” made from their skins, when China will in short order become the largest Christian population on earth. Perhaps those preaching and practicing in China might remind people of what Jesus thought about donkeys. I was always taught their shoulder stripes are the lasting sign of the cross, in honor and memory of their service to Jesus.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. More from AMERICAN HERDS (reader comments)


    Reader comment
    I have the pleasure of having 3 burros in my life…other than a dog, I have never met an animal that LOVES to be LOVED so much! Burros are the most affectionate animals! I am so glad that everything I learned about donkeys/burros as a child (that they kick, bite and are stubborn) is UNTRUE! They are wonderful, smart, loving animals. I wish everyone could have the pleasure of knowing one!!

    Reader comment
    I just stumbled on this blog while doing research for a paper I’m working on about the hideous Big Bend State Park (in Texas) burro murders. Not only am I completely stunned at the long history of burro and horse hatred among many in the wildlife management business, I am so saddened that they ignore the fact that IMO a majority of Americans, when they imagine the Old West history, see burros and horses in their minds. Yet the governments (national and state) are doing their damnedest to eradicate them from the “historical” landscape. So thank you for this site.
    And as for burros…my donkeys (none BLM yet) are by far the most loving and gentle beings I have ever known. I gave up dogs and cats completely (and I used to train them for a living) when I found donkeys. They are loving and wise beyond all comprehension of many folks. And they literally changed my life — giving me the long hoped for direction. I finally knew what I want to do when I grow up (at 37). I’m working on my degree and writing to try to re-educate a sadly misinformed public – and government. Changing views of horses, donkeys, and mules, and getting them the respect and treatment they have more than earned is my life’s passion. So thank you for this post, this site, your work.
    P.S. I would just like to add a tribute here to my Pooh Bear, may baby boy donkey (at 17 hands high) who passed away this month from intestinal rupture caused by an enterolith. He was the most awesome donkey ever – his heart was 10 times bigger than he was. And at 17 hands that’s saying something.


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