Often cast as unassuming, stubborn and sometimes a little dimwitted, donkeys have a rich history as the real-life heroes of agriculture, town planning and religion.
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And if you look closely, all donkeys across the world, whether they are grazing in pastures or gracing the big screen, share one mysterious feature — they have a dark cross on their backs, running down their spines and across their shoulders. If you shaved their fur, you would find the cross on their skin," Western Australia Donkey Society president Dawn Maton said.
Ms Maton's passion for donkeys started late in life after her daughter left one in her care when she moved overseas several years ago. Ms Maton noticed the marking on her own Mr Darcy and recalled a Christian story from her childhood.
The story of the little donkey has permeated Christian storytelling and liturgy for hundreds of years, but according to the University of Notre Dame senior theology lecturer Angela McCarthy, that tale never actually appeared in the Bible. But that is not to say the donkey does not enjoy prominence in other biblical and historic narratives. While feral donkeys in Australia are considered environmental pests , in Israel the donkey is described as the first town planner. Dr McCarthy said that was because it would find the easiest track up the mountain, and that is where roads would develop.
Cross on donkey's back - Picture of The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth
It is the only animal in the Bible other than the serpent to speak, and it plays a significant role in more than one Christian prophecy. Researchers believe the same gene that causes a camouflaging colour in modern horses is behind the stripes on the coats of several other animals in the horse family.
Different kinds of zebra, the kulan, donkeys and modern horses separated from each other about 3 million years ago, and their common ancestor most likely had some sort of striping or banding, according to Claire Wade, professor of computational biology and animal genetics at the University of Sydney. Ms Wade said while the evidence was not yet concrete, research has predicted these "primitive markings" could have played a role in camouflaging.
Donkeys are not the only part of the natural world that communities have used religious myths or cultural symbolism to rationalise.
Dreaming stories help explain how the Great Barrier Reef was formed , while the Maori believe the Milky Way came from a canoe. Dr McCarthy said the story of the little donkey and how it had been attached to the nativity and crucifixion was no different.
Topics: animals , religion-and-beliefs , livestock , bunbury , perth , dunsborough , fremantle First posted October 12, Contact Meggie Morris. More stories from Western Australia. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content. Read about our editorial guiding principles and the standards ABC journalists and content makers follow.
Learn more. The first Big Day Out was absolutely wild, and included Nirvana as a support act. It all started when a video showing a donkey being beaten and mistreated by his owner was posted on Instagram on July While the animal was struggling to go down the steps, its owner was hitting it violently and pulling on its lead. Their lives are made a misery. This Greek island is steep and difficult to climb with its small streets and many staircases.
Our Observer Maria Astradeni Scourta is a member of an association called Direct Action Everywhere - Athens , a group made up of activists who focus on animal rights. The donkey owners became very violent. Some of them set fire to our banners and threw our bags down the stairs. Right now, we are in peak tourist season. The number of tourists will increase through the rest of August.
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You need to see beyond the idea of a picturesque donkey ride. On July 29, the town of Fira reacted to the public outcry after the publication of the videos. The city government promised to enact a series of measures including limits on the hours that the donkeys can work and the loads that they carry. The mayor also announced that the number of tourists allowed to disembark on the island on any given day would drop from 13, to 8, If they do respond, we will update this page.
In order to speed up the enactment of these new regulations, the activists launched an online petition to raise awareness amongst both local people and tourists about the plight of the donkeys. They have collected around 85, signatures.
My profile Contribute Logout. Screengrabs showing abuses suffered by donkeys on Santorini island. The donkeys go from the port to the village of Fira the capital of Santorini and back. To get there, they have to climb about steps.
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On average, the donkeys do seven roundtrips a day. They are forced to carry heavy loads up a metre slope. Some of the donkeys who carry very heavy tourists end up with back problems or even injured spinal cords.