Student number: N0589241
Word count: 1478
The donkey or an ass - Equus africanus asinus is a domesticated member of the horse family, Equidae (P. Grubb, 2005). Male donkey is called jack, female – jenny and her offspring – foal (J. French 1997). Donkeys are known as stubborn animals just because they are more likely to avoid dangerous situations. However donkeys were one of the first domesticated and used in agriculture animals. Like all other animals donkeys need to socialise and communicate with other individuals. They do it in quite a few different ways. As researches show feral donkeys spend most of the time in their small groups this would suggest that donkeys are social animals and most of the time they will spend with other individuals. Domesticated donkeys need an additional donkey or another animal to keep them company otherwise they will be lonely and it can lead to abnormal behaviours (Dr C. Dalton, 2012).
Data collection was carried out in Nottingham Trent University, Brackenhurst campus (The School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences). The campus is located near Southwell just outside Nottingham. Donkey paddock contains four donkeys: three males and a female. Two of the castrated males were observed. Instantaneous and focal sampling methods were chosen for observation – when one animal at the time was observed at 1 minute intervals for half an hour. After first half an hour observation second donkey was observed in the same way. Premade donkey social behaviour ethogram and data collection sheet were used for observation/data collection. Donkeys were observed in the late morning 10:30-11:30. Subjects were fed just before the inspection and moved from small feeding/night time paddock to a big field enclosure with a shelter for easier and more visible surveillance. Weather was quite cold, cloudy and windy it was around 5°. Behaviours that have been looked for: olfactory, vocal, contacting, staying close, staying apart, following, running around, pushing and interacting with humans.
Brackenhurst campus has group of four donkeys, which two of them were observed for social performances. Human appearance was a distraction for animals so they didn’t show their natural behaviours as they would without human presence. Donkeys are mostly active in mornings and evenings they will stay active in night time and rest in the hottest part of the day-midday. Resting is one of the most communal activities. (Dr. E. D. Svendsen, 1997) The observation was carried between 10:30 and 11:30 this would mean that donkeys still should be quite active but considering that animals were just fed and according to the cold weather conditions donkeys remained calm and stayed in one place spending most of their time close to each other. At the beginning of the observation donkeys were more active they were looking around and marking territory with urine all in the same place as trying to show their dominance. At the end of the firs observation donkeys gathered in the shed where they spend the rest of the first observation and most of the second observation. Just like feral asses being close to each other they keep themselves warm (Dr E. D. Svandsen, 1997).
Vocal – making sound, braying. Donkeys are very vocal animals. The most obvious and requiring the most effort is the bray. In feral donkeys the bray is mostly made by dominant males, they tend to bray regularly soon after dawn sometimes other jacks answer to the bray (Jane French 1997). Jennies and their foals rarely bray unless separated from group or each other. Donkeys also produce other vocalisations such as growling and grunting are agonistic. Donkeys expressing relief, disgust, excitement or a nasal irritation by snorting. Donkeys also making other noises to find each other for example grooming partners or jennies looking for their foals. Asses also can make a noise while