A donkey’s bray — which sounds like a whistle followed by a grating gutteral noise — is known for being a rather unpleasant cry. But it wasn’t until we heard Harriet that we realized just how beautiful the strains of a “singing” donkey could be. Who could have expected that such shrill hee-haws could be transformed into an operatic aria?
A man on Facebook named Martin Stanton posted a video of Harriet in the group Ireland From the Roadside, writing “I visited the beautiful Harriet today (Sunday 21st October). She could never hee haw like other donkeys but apparently she’s now an opera singer!!”
“I couldn’t stop laughing — she’s never made that noise,” Stanton, who lives nearby, told CTVNews.ca. “I think she was pleased to see the bag of treats. I try to see her as often as possible, work permitting. She loves carrots and bread but her absolute favorite is ginger nut biscuits. She’s so friendly and gentle.”
When the pair first met, Stanton mistakenly believed she was a he and named the donkey “Harrison.” Once Harriet got pregnant and became a mother, Stanton had to revise the name.
Why do donkeys bray?
Donkeys bray for a number of reasons: to signal distress, to say hello, and to communicate with other donkeys. Just like dogs have different barks and cats have different meows, donkeys have specific brays to convey their feelings. Personality also dictates how frequently a donkey will bray. Extroverted animals will typically sound off more than their introverted counterparts — and donkeys are no exception to this rule.
Based on Stanton’s footage, it doesn’t seem like Harriet is giving off a stressed or panicked bray. In all likelihood, her melodic greeting is friendly and cheeerful. If she were to bray nonstop, then it would be an indicator that she wanted Stanton to back off. But given that Stanton regularly visits Harriet and brings treats, we bet the old girl was just singing for her supper.