Something strange and wonderful just happened! We found… A donkey. She was walking around in the kibbutz for a day or two before we heard about her. I know that people have no problems unceremoniously dumping their cats, dogs and rabbits here, but a pet donkey..? That’s a new one, even for us! S. and I went over to try and catch her. She came with us willingly and seemed friendly and gentle. No problem at all!
Yes, that is a homemade emergency halter she’s wearing – I didn’t have anything suitable for her! If she stays with us, we’ll have to buy her some supplies.
Now the question is… Where did she come from? There are a few possible answers. She could have escaped from another pet zoo or a private owner. If she did, we have no way of knowing where from. She wasn’t wearing any tack and is not tattooed or branded. We called a pet zoo close to us, but they aren’t missing a donkey and didn’t know of anyone who does. We spoke to the council vet and our own vet and got the same answer.
The other option is: she’s a Bedouin donkey. This is actually the most likely scenario, because of this:
She has thin lines of white hairs on each of her legs. Those are not natural markings, they are old scars.
Bedouins are people that I don’t know much about and don’t have much to do with. They are traditionally shepherds and they used to live a nomadic life, travelling with their camels and goats across the Middle East. But now things are different. Most Bedouins have settled in specially built towns, although some still live in tents or in temporary homes made out of scrap material. They always keep animals though, in their traditional way – which means no stables or fenced paddocks. To keep their animals from running off, they tie their legs together.
These are some camels in front of a Bedouin camp. It’s hard to make out in the picture, but their front legs are tied together and their heads are tied to their front legs with another rope. It’s not so tight that they can’t graze/browse (whatever camels do), but it’s tight enough to stop them from running. They can only walk with small little steps. They do this to their donkeys, horses and goats too – sometimes the back legs too, if the animals is particularly prone to running off, I suppose. Our runaway donkey has scars from these ropes on all four of her legs.
I’m facing a dilemma now. I don’t want to take something from the Bedouins, who don’t have it easy in modern-day Israel – or anywhere, really. But I know that they aren’t particularly gentle with their animals. This little girl has probably been treated quite harshly. She is very calm, but shies when someone makes a sudden movement and seems afraid of tractors and other farm machinery. So no, I’m not going to bring her back voluntarily – even if I knew which particular Bedouin camp she came from. It is possible that someone will come looking for her, but I’m not holding my breath.
We have called her Tiltan (Clover). Tiltan seems very comfortable with us! Apart from the old scars, she looks good. I think she is quite young but I’m not sure how exactly to check this with donkeys. The teeth don’t look the same as a horse’s!
We are so pleased to have her. I haven’t seen S. so happy in years! We are spending lots of time with Tiltan, taking her for walks and feeding her. All the people and children of the kibbutz want to see her and stroke her. She’s a sweetie! It is amazing to have an equine around again. It takes me right back to when I was a teenager and horses were the only thing I lived for! 🙂
The only thing that worries me now is the noise! I wasn’t quite prepared for the deafening qualities of donkey braying. Forrunately, she doesn’t do it much, otherwise people might complain..!
Fingers crossed that Tiltan can stay!! 😀