A new donkey with the rather unusual name Pavarotti was brought into our care recently, and although he wasn’t named after the late great singing legend, it seems that our Pavarotti has a shared interest – singing. Pavarotti the donkey was caught here on camera airing his lungs with a massive braying session shortly after being brought to the Sanctuary in June 2009. His previous owner felt sorry for him after he failed to bond with his own kind and fell lonely – probably because the other donkeys were jealous of Pavarotti’s outstanding ability to perform!
But why does the donkey bray? Is it for the same reason that a cat meows, dog barks or horse neighs? Could it be something that has steadily developed over time or an almighty act of God?
Well legend has it that after hiding in Egypt for some years, Joseph decided to move his family back to Nazareth. During the night they camped along the side of the road and one night while they slept, their donkey heard the soldiers' horses coming from the distance. Afraid that the soldiers were coming to kill Jesus, the donkey neighed to wake Joseph. He neighed and neighed, but his voice was just too soft to wake the sleepers. Finally, as the soldiers approached, the donkey prayed for a loud voice to wake the family. When he neighed again, he was rewarded with the loud bray that donkeys have had ever since.
However, don’t let it ever be said that we here at The Donkey Sanctuary only take one side of a discussion into consideration.
In the wild most braying is preformed by territorial males. They tend to bray regularly soon after dawn and sometimes are answered by other jacks. The leaders of the herd bray to maintain contact with the group and advertise group possession of the area to other herds. They also bray before rounding up the group to move on to a new location. Therefore, it would seem that braying is a natural feature that has stayed with the donkey from when it was a wild animal right through to its domestication – a form of communication that they have never been able to rid themselves of.
So next time you find yourself wondering around our Sanctuary and hear a loud ‘EE OR’ from the fields, it might just be our Pavarotti practicing his rendition of Nessun Dorma to wow the crowds with.