Bath time for Matilde

Matilde has a bath

Matilde has a bath

The last weekend of the summer holiday is the time to try and catch up on all the last-minute things there will not be time for, starting tomorrow…

Like a bath for Matilde. She hates getting wet and I hate getting kicked, so bath time is unpleasant for everyone!

Also during this last weekend ofthe summer holidays, the Donkey Sanctuary announced they had put a stop to the use of a donkey in a museum in southern Spain.  I am interested in knowing more about the details.

Mill donkey

Mill donkey in Mijas

The news appeared on Twitter with the picture of the donkey, turning an olive press in the traditional way, and this caption: “Should donkeys be used as entertainment in a mill in Spain? We don’t think so. We’ve stopped demos like this.”  I was interested to know more and asked for further information, and a lady called Sue Cook replied: “I live in Mijas and have seen the mill and I don’t like to see the donkeys being used for this, that’s all.”

Now, I am all for donkey welfare and cutting out abuses, but I think we need to be very careful here. The donkey would have been used to demonstrate earlier agricultural processes, just as we have horses used to demonstrate horse-drawn ploughing techniques etc., and I wonder if this donkey would have been turning the mill for more than a couple of demo sessions, in any case?  I’m simply asking about this, as I have not got the full information, but I do wonder if we may be going too far.

Do we want to see donkeys entirely removed from public view, except gathered in sanctuaries eating and sleeping?  They once had a working role and we should allow that to be credited, and the donkeys’ work remembered, and sometimes demonstrated.  It would be good, as I say, to hear more about the facts of this, and “I don’t like to see donkeys being used for this” may not be a sufficiently good reason for banning a perfectly reasonable demonstration of working practices in former times.  If too many things we “don’t like” are labeled “abuse”, we risk turning animals into mere ornaments.

Update 2/9/14

I have now managed to find the Donkey Sanctuary’s full explanation which was not linked in their earlier Tweet, and you can read it here:

PS  Why bath Matilde?

It occurred to me since Hannah’s comment (see comments) that most readers of this blog will be unaware we have had no significant rain since January: this is a severe drought disaster area. The donks have had no natural rainfall on them for eight months!  Another reason why Matilde needs a bath.


About Gareth Thomas

After a mixed career as an aircraft technician, London fringe theatre playwright, Franciscan friar, and secondary school teacher, I find myself dividing my time mostly between looking after the needs of four donkeys in a remote location in the mountains in the Costa Blanca and preparing a legal case against the corrupt management of my monstrous last employer - the Elians group - for unfair dismissal. I like to hear the wind in the pine trees. I do not like struggling to get a duvet into a duvet cover. My musical tastes are extinct and I have mostly given up cycle racing.
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8 Responses to Bath time for Matilde

  1. hannahmoth says:

    Hear hear! I know that my dear donkey ( very much likes to have a job to do. Of course it has to be carried out humanely and not for too long, and it looks like this poor donkey was doing it for eight hours with no break or shade: Knowing the Donkey Sanctuary, they'd be happy to let it continue if a kind way was found though – they were very supportive of my walk.
    PS Why does Matilde need a bath?

  2. Frere Rabit says:

    Good to hear from you again, Hannah. Update me on the film project some time. I still want to know more about this Mijas donkey museum case: the idea of an eight hour routine doesn’t add up! No museum in Spain even opens for eight hours!

    Matilde’s bath is a six monthly event. Her lovely light grey bits get gradually yellowed with wee and her tendency to sit down in poo for a comfortable night’s sleep. She was particularly smelly when I took her walking on Friday! Other donks don’t need much cleaning but Matilde is a messy donk!

  3. Annie says:

    Donkeys/horses that don’t work tend to get slaughtered.

  4. Alys says:

    Thank goodness Matilde has had a bath! The air is smelling so much fresher…

  5. Alys says:

    I’m reminded of Paco, who still uses his donkeys, with traditional baskets, to collect olives for oil pressing. The Donks can go where the machines can’t!

  6. Frere Rabit says:

    Yes, well spotted Alys. Just a matter of time before donkeys carrying baskets of olives (20kg max) are deemed to be “abused” then taken off the job and denied their working dignity. We humans are the abused, by a liberal agenda out of control.

  7. Jim of Olym says:

    We have ploughing contests here with mules and draft horses, and some local farmers and woodsmen even use oxen for farm work and logging (especially in areas that trucks can’t go.
    No one here in the Pacific Northwest has ever called this inhumane!
    Further, we are too dependent on petroleum for all our power needs. As it gets more and more expensive many of us will be grateful that an earlier technology is available and economically feasable!

  8. Frere Rabit says:

    Hi Jim, quite right too ! We will eventually go full circle back to working animals on the land. It is the sustainable future after oil.

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