Sunday July 03, 2016

In praise of the humble (and unfairly maligned!) donkey

Karen Pollard with Echo, the matriarch of the herd.

Karen Pollard with Echo, the matriarch of the herd. (Credit: Alisa Siegel)

Listen 11:51

There's stubborn and deluded Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream. You may remember bad-tempered Benjamin in Orwell's Animal Farm. And of course, gloomy old Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. 

The fictional world has not been particularly kind to the donkey. And despite 5000 years of donkey-human relations, the real world is no walk in the pasture either.

Unless, of course, you are a donkey who lives on Karen Pollard's farm in Erin, Ontario. There, the donkey is king. Or queen, to be accurate. 

Karen Pollard has cared for and raised donkeys for the last 40 years. With the financial backing of a local dentist, she began importing purebreds from the U.S. Not to profit from them, but to increase their numbers, improve their image, and bury the falsehoods. 

She has "donkey open houses." She's writing a book about donkeys. She trains young helpers, and fervently hopes they will carry on her mission to care for and celebrate the misunderstood, underappreciated donkey. This documentary was first broadcast last November.  

Click the button above to hear Alisa Siegel's documentary about Karen Pollard's farm for donkeys.