The PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Tails Blog

Donkey Vision

Posted by PrimRose on February 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Donkeys use their eyes as one of their main detectors of danger. At the sanctuary I have seen a donkey staring off into the distance seeing movement long before I do. Donkeys can use both eyes to focus on objects called binocular vision or use one eye only for monocular vision. There are blind spots directly behind and in front of a donkey. Donkeys have very good night vision although their eyes need time to adjust from bright light to low light conditions which is why the donkeys will stand for a few moments when coming into the barn after being outside. Also give a donkey’s eyes time to adjust when loading onto a trailer. As Patsy and Jenny at the sanctuary demonstrate, donkeys adjust well to complete or partial blindness. Donkeys are so stoic that often owners will not notice if they are going blind. Symptoms can include abrupt head movements when a moving object enters their sight line or movingtheir heads to be able to see an object, both of which Jenny demonstrates. If possible a blind donkey’s stall should be kept clear of obstacles and regular items such as food, water and salt licks should be kept in the same location. It is important to speak frequently when around a blind donkey. Also touching helps blind donkey be aware of where you are. As visitors and volunteers at the sanctuary can testify Patsy has perfected using her braying to let us know what she wants. Braying in the stall can mean feed me or take me out, which we do with a lead line. It can also mean open my stall so I can wonder the barn tonight or I don’t have enough hay. If Patsy is in the yard or field braying means get a lead line and take me in. Once when I was leading Patsy a gate was not open and she banged her forehead which meant I had to earn her trust to be able to lead her again.

Blind donkeys can form bonds with seeing donkeys who become their seeing eyes. This happened with Patsy, first Amos, then Jonathon Cupcake stepped forward to guide Patsy. Sadly both have passed away. Blindness can be caused by eye disease such as infections and cataracts, old age or perhaps genetic, if a foal is born blind or with one eye. Blind donkeys can lead a full life as they are so adaptable and often a companion Donkey will step forward to help as well.


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