By John Ensor •
Published: 29 Dec 2023 • 16:04
Mortadelo the donkey.
RESEARCHERS have raised the possibility that the secret to combating human baldness could lie in the manes of donkeys, Spanish ones in particular.
This intriguing possibility is at the heart of ground-breaking research currently being undertaken by Swedish scientists.
On a recent visit to the Doñana Natural Area in Andalucia, veterinarians from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden, collected blood samples from donkeys. These donkeys, play a crucial role in creating natural firebreaks to combat wildfires.
Luis, president of the El Burrito Feliz Association, headquartered in Hinojos, Huelva, shared insights into the project. ‘They are the ones who create natural firewalls in the fight against fires,’ he said.
The association, along with a team of volunteers, cares for these donkeys. Luis expressed his delight in their selection for this unique study.
The collaboration between the university and the Doñana Biological Station (EBD-CSIC) aims to uncover the secret behind the remarkable strength of donkey hair.
The goal is to translate this resilience to human hair, offering a potential solution to baldness.
The choice of specific donkeys for this research was not random. ‘They came at once,’ said Luis, referring to the scientists’ immediate interest in these animals. The team was particularly fascinated by ‘Mortadelo’, a donkey with features closely resembling the original African breed.
Mortadelo, a small grey donkey, is distinguishable by a long horizontal stripe running along the upper part of his body.
‘Poor Mortadelo is also one-eyed,’ Luis added, highlighting the diverse characteristics of these animals. The researchers sought healthy donkeys living a life akin to their wild counterparts, found in Doñana.
The El Burrito Feliz team is dedicated to preserving these animals as part of Mediterranean culture. They hope that these donkeys might soon contribute to human wellbeing in a novel way, potentially offering a solution to alopecia.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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