Can donkeys love their owners?

Donkeys are sentient beings. They have feelings and if you don’t believe that I would respectfully suggest that you are badly mistaken. As they have feelings they have the potential to love although the word “love” is a very elastic word. It means to have strong affections, one for another. And they don’t regard their human friend as an owner. It is also known that donkeys form very strong relationships and are indeed surprisingly affectionate. They will seek out trusted humans and other animals with whom they are friendly. They develop strong bonds with other animals and when separated from their companion they can become anxious and distressed.

Donkey comes for a cuddle and clearly loves the girl and it is reciprocated
Donkey comes for a cuddle and clearly loves the girl and it is reciprocated. Screenshot.
Can donkeys love their owners?
Can donkeys love their owners? Yes. Look at the emotion on this donkey’s face. This is a video screenshot. Apologies for the poor image quality.

Donkeys pair-bond with a companion for life so it is to be expected that if they are separated they can become severely depressed to the point where they might stop eating. They can develop health problems as a consequence. It is said that donkeys cry without tears. It is also said that donkeys can sing and bray a distressed bray just as dogs bark when stressed.

In the videos you see the two donkeys vocalising their feelings very distinctly. It is apparent for all to see that these donkeys are feeling strong emotions of happiness at meeting a human after a lengthy separation with whom they had formed a bond. In the second video both the man and the donkey are expressing their strong emotions as the man is tearful. They are both emotionally moving videos. I feel sorry for the donkeys as they appear to have been separated from their human friend for some time.

As donkeys are not suited to living alone they will quickly become sad, lonely and depressed when alone. It is strongly recommended that they have a companion to live with.

Donkeys can bite a human if in pain or if they are scared. They may associate human behaviour with pain and discomfort and that’s why they may bite a person. They have a natural disliking of wild dogs, coyotes and foxes and other members of the candid family. They can be trained to tolerate them but their innate dislike of them cannot be dispelled.

Sometimes farmers keep donkeys to protect against coyotes. They might kill a coyote with their hooves and warn the rest of the herd by braying. But it’ll be an individual donkey approach because not all donkeys do this.

Donkeys normally sleep when standing up but they may lay down if they are secure and have decided that the potential harm from predators is very small. In a herd one may stay standing while one lays down to sleep.

Donkeys live longer than horses it is said, living to 25-30 years in the wild. To return to the question in the title: the answer must be an obvious, yes, but we also must be open to the suggestion that the word “love” is very elastic and therefore I would argue that donkeys love in their way, meaning that they have a close friendship and strong affection for each other. And that significant other can be a human being as seen in these videos. Please be kind and loving to donkeys. They are wonderful sentient beings.

P.S. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, E. africanus. The donkey is member of the horse family: Equidae.

Please remember that as these are embedded videos into this website I can’t control it if they are removed from YouTube which sometimes happens. If it does happen these videos will stop working, and should that be the case I apologise.

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Speciesism - 'them and us' | Cruelty - always shameful
follow it link and logo

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

At heart this site is about ANTHROPOCENTRISM meaning a human-centric world.

Post Category: Horses > emotions