Donkeys: If They Aren't Grieving What Are They Doing?

Watch a video of donkeys braying and otherwise interacting with a corpse

Posted Apr 28, 2016

What do these grieving donkeys know and feel?

They say a picture is worth 1000 words. If so, then this video of donkeys braying and interacting with a corpse is worth many, many more. (The translation from Dutch is "Foundation Donkey Farm: THE HERD BIDS FAREWELL TO BRAM.") Please watch it and share it. It's a tearjerker, but more importantly I can't imagine finding a more compelling example of animal grief among those that have been reported. 

In an interview with CBS News by Christina Capatides called "New video shows herd of donkeys appearing to grieve a friend" I noted, “This video shows compelling evidence that non-human animals experience deep grief and loss ... I don’t know exactly what's going on in the heads and hearts of these animals, or whether they have a concept of death that tells them their friend is gone forever. But I don’t see any reason at all to say they're not grieving. Animals have been known to bray when deeply depressed, and these donkeys are clearly very upset.”

We surely need more research on animal grief, and hopefully someday we'll learn what grieving individuals are thinking and feeling. For more on what we know about grief in animals please see "Grief in animals: It's arrogant to think we're the only animals who mourn," "Grief, Mourning, and Broken Hearted Animals," "Grieving Animals: Saying Goodbye to Friends and Family," and my review of Dr. Barbara King's book called How Animals Grieve, as well as her book itself. As I wrote above, I can't imagine finding a more compelling example of animal grief among those that have been reported. 

Note: For more on donkey behavior please click here. I especially like Donkey: The Mystique of Equus Asinus by Michael Tobias and Jane Morrison. 

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's Story: Saving Moon Bears (with Jill Robinson), Ignoring Nature No More: The Case for Compassionate Conservation, Why Dogs Hump and Bees Get Depressed: The Fascinating Science of Animal Intelligence, Emotions, Friendship, and Conservation, Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence, and The Jane Effect: Celebrating Jane Goodall (edited with Dale Peterson). (Homepage:; @MarcBekoff) 

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