Donkeys Gather To Say Goodbye To A Friend Who Died

<p>Stichting de Ezelshoeve</p>

Bram the donkey spent much of his life lonely and neglected, but there's beauty in knowing his final days were spent surrounded by so many who loved him dearly.

Having never lived inside a stable, the old donkey was in poor health when he was finally rescued from his former owner and sent to live at the Donkey Farm Foundation, a sanctuary in the Netherlands. There, he soon bonded with other animals like himself, perhaps for the first time in his life.

Stichting de Ezelshoeve

"Bram lived with us for one and a half year and we nursed him. We gave him all the medication he needed and a lot of love," sanctuary founder Jacqueline van den Berg told The Dodo. "But there came the day that he could not lay down anymore because of his lungs."

That was the day he passed away.

Afterward, a touching scene unfolded as Bram's friends gathered around to bid him one last farewell.

click to play video

"Bram is a part of their herd and they respect him," said van den Berg. "The leader of the pack, the black and white donkey, bites him. Not because he's angry but because he wants Bram to get up. The donkeys are mourning deeply."

Such a display of sensitivity might come as a surprise to those who think of donkeys as lowly or simple sorts of creatures, but like all animals, they too have an emotional depth that defies stereotypes to the contrary.

"Every time I see the same reaction from the herd when a donkey dies. It's real mourning for a close friend. You can hear them cry. It's not the same sound as braying," van den Berg said. "Donkeys make friends for life, and they can even die of grief."

Stichting de Ezelshoeve

Though Bram has now passed, he'll remain among his friends forever in spirit - his ashes spread beneath a towering oak tree on the grounds of the sanctuary where he learned, at long last, what it meant to truly feel at home.