Firefighting donkeys to the rescue

THE Happy Donkey Association is not the first organisation that springs to mind when we think about tackling forest fires. But preventing forest fires is a top notch career for the donkeys of Doñana National Park in Andalucia.
One of the main weapons the fire brigade have against forest fires is creating fire breaks in the vegetation so the fire cannot spread. However in remote inaccessible areas this proves virtually impossible for humans.
This is where the popular, friendly and very hungry heroes step up to the mark. The small diligent donkeys are in the process of making firebreaks in Doñana, which extends across parts of Sevilla, Cadiz and Huelva. With summer’s arrival so increases the risk of fires, but once the famous hero donkeys get started, there’s not many tufts of dry grass left standing to burn.
It is an activity that attracts a lot of attention as it really is effective, says Vice-President of The Happy Donkey Association, Wendy Clements.
According to reports from the National Park, “fireman donkeys are already in the process of clearing the zone, where it is difficult for people to move around. These specialised donkeys have learned to eat the dry grass in a systematic way so as to create a thorough clearing that serves as quite effective firebreaks.”
“People know us, even from outside Doñana,” said Wendy proudly, “firemen from the town of Glasgow have become friends with our hardworking animals. Many people outside Spain only know the park because of our famous donkeys,” she said
The Happy Donkeys have worked hard to make firebreaks in the past two years, and have become quite famous. Nearly 200,000 visits to their website – mainly from abroad, prove how popular they are. So much so, the donkeys have also been given a ‘job offer’ in Sevilla, and the association is currently considering expanding the work to other provinces.

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