Let’s face it, every time we turn on the TV or open a newspaper we’re immediately faced with the reality that the world is going to crap.
Brexit, global warming, plastic pollution, having to wait two years for a new season of Game of Thrones – the list goes on. All of these are major issues which need addressing urgently, but sometimes we just need to take a step back from it all and take a deep breath, even if only for our own sanity.
So I’ve taken it upon myself to brighten your day and provide you all with a much needed pick-me-up, in the form of adorable animals.
Brace yourselves, because I’m not sure you’re ready for what you’re about to discover. Somewhere in Italy, donkeys are used to transport newborn lambs to safety when they can’t make the journey themselves.
I know, I can’t cope. And you haven’t even heard the best part yet! These donkeys are referred to as ‘donkey nannies’, because they care for the little lambs when their parents can’t.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of donkey nannies let me explain. According to Cattail Chronicles, donkeys are used to transport the lambs, who are too small to make the journey to better pastures by themselves.
The donkey is fitted with a custom made saddle bag, in which the lambs fit perfectly for the journey ahead. My heart.
Today I learnt about donkey nannies, which are donkeys that are used to transport newborn lambs from high pastures to the plains when the lambs can't make that trip themselves.
They're taken out after the day's journey for food and nuzzling with their mothers. pic.twitter.com/GwIWxiaQOW
— New James+ (@iyagovos) November 5, 2018
Look at their little heads popping out of the saddle! I can’t handle the cuteness. And it seems as though this is normal practice in certain parts of Italy, in particular in northern parts such as Lombardy.
This happens in the early spring, when shepherds need to move livestock to different plains so they have better access to food.
According to the National Geographic, Elspeth Kinneir, who took the photo, said:
In the early spring shepherds drive huge flocks of livestock, here sheep, mules, donkeys, and goats from the Pre-Alpine hills to the plains of Lombardy, for grazing.
The newborn lambs are carried in a custom made side saddle by the donkeys, and returned to their mothers at rest time. I was told that the hump on the donkey’s back is a cauldron!
Try and tell me that this isn’t the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Go on, I dare you.
Of course, it’s only cute if the donkeys aren’t being hurt and weighed down too much, which is why they only transport the lambs which weigh very little. This ensures that the donkeys are well looked after and remain healthy.
However, certain tourist resorts are notorious for allowing tourists to ride on donkeys, which often results in a deterioration of the animal’s health.
Officials in Santorini recently banned ‘fat tourists’ from riding donkeys because of this, as it was causing the animals to suffer from spinal injuries and wounds from ill-fitting saddles.
For years, donkeys have been used to transport people on the island to hard-to-reach places, up hills and steep paths which vehicles cannot reach.
However, restrictions have now been introduced to protect the animals, meaning there is a limit on how heavy people can be to hitch a ride.
Earlier this year, a spokesperson for the Help the Santorini Donkeys charity spoke about the awful conditions donkeys are forced to work.
It’s recommended that animals should carry no more than 20 per cent of their own body weight.
The obese and overweight tourists, combined with the lack of shade and water as well as the sheer heat and 568 cobbled steps, is what is causing such a problem.
There should be a weight restriction. With donkeys it is should be no more than 50kg, but how would that be imposed and who would be there to make sure that happened?
According to 9Gag, the country’s Ministry of Rural Development and Food has published a new set of regulations stating donkeys should not carry any loads heavier than 100kg (around 15st) in Santorini.
At least it’s a step in the right direction, but I hope officials will be able to come up with a better mode of transportation soon.
Hopefully the donkeys will all get the appropriate care they deserve.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).