This past weekend, as I am many Saturdays in the fall, I was out at The Rock Ranch taking pictures at the Fall Family Fun Day for the paper. While there, I wandered over to the petting zoo area to try to capture the moment of a little kid seeing a goat or a pig up close for the first time. However, when I walked in, my attention was not immediately drawn to a small child, but rather several signs that were posted along the fence of one of the pens. They read “Please do not feed the donkey.”
My first thought was to wonder why this donkey was being singled out, because none of the other animals had signs on their pens. Then I thought maybe he was the type of donkey that would continue to eat as long as food was given to him, no matter if he was hungry or not, and it may make him sick. Or maybe he is a picky eater and doesn’t like the pellets that can be bought at the attraction. Then the most logical reason came to mind: this donkey is probably a biter and therefore cannot be trusted to take the food from anyone’s hand. I am not sure if this is the actual reason or not, it is just my theory. However, I have reasons to back up my way of thinking, because I, Ashley Biles, have been the victim of a donkey attack.
It was a brisk day in the fall of 1989 when my parents took my sister and me to Stone Mountain for our own family fun day. Being the animal lover that I am, the petting zoo was one of the highlights of the trip; I loved getting to see all the farm animals and wanted my picture taken with each one. The donkey seemed to be very friendly and came right up to the fence for us to rub his nose, instead of shying away like some of the other animals. Mama told us to turn around for the photo and I decided it would be a good idea to climb up on the fence, so that I could be closer to said donkey, which would turn out to be a big mistake.
As we smiled for the camera, the donkey had other things on his mind and evidently thought I looked like a tasty snack. In the words of Forrest Gump, he bit me right “in the buttocks.” It left a huge bruise and I can still remember the pain to this day. You can see the event begin to unfold in the picture, with the donkey barring his teeth while he moved closer to me and the horrified look on my daddy’s face as he realized what was happening. After he had seen what I tasted like, the donkey moved on to the little boy standing near us and grabbed his jacket. He was a repeat offender! However, that boy’s mother took to beating the animal with her pocketbook until he let go, unlike mine, who just snapped pictures away with her camera. I felt so loved.
Even though it happened 23 years ago, I am still haunted by the pain I experienced that day. A direct result of this incident is that I tend to keep my distance from donkeys when at a petting zoo or any other event where I may run into one. At the very least, I make sure to never turn my back to them because you never know they may be hungry and you may look like a good substitute for their next meal.
“Please don’t feed the donkey.” You don’t have to tell me twice!