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Comparing and Contrasting Knowledge on Mules and Hinnies as a Tool to Comprehend Their Behavior and Improve Their Welfare.

  • Author(s): McLean, Amy
  • Varnum, Angela
  • Ali, Ahmed
  • Heleski, Camie
  • Navas González, Francisco Javier
  • et al.
Abstract

Mules and hinnies are the hybrids between donkeys (Equus asinus) and horses (Equus caballus). For centuries, mankind has used them for agrarian purposes, the military, or recreation. Contrasting literature with behavioral observations, we seek a better behavioral understanding andthus comprehensive solutions for their welfare enhancement. Over the past 6 years, we have assessed physical and behavioral welfare in over 900 mules by surveying owners from Egypt, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Mexico, and the U.S. These mules participated in shows, brick kiln work, cart-pulling, packing, tourism, and cattle herding. Observations are discussed alongside facts from the literature. Unfortunately, their behavior has been misunderstood by many, and harsh treatment and equipment has been used to control them. Few studies have attempted to define or use learning theory to understand how and why mules and hinnies behave as they do. Hence, understanding their health considerations, natural behavior, and training theory is crucial for those who work with them.Solutions to welfare improvement partially lie in an individual's ability to handle mules and hinnies from birth, and to proceed slowly through training. Conclusively, this review sets forth a clearer understanding of these hybrids' behaviors and promotes positive handling, allowing their access to more routine healthcare and ultimately, a higher welfare standard.

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