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Open AccessArticle

Development of a Donkey Grimace Scale to Recognize Pain in Donkeys (Equus asinus) Post Castration

1
Department of Animal Biology, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95617, USA
2
Department of Genetics, Faculty of Veterinary Sciences, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
3
The Worldwide Donkey Breeds Project, University of Córdoba, 14071 Córdoba, Spain
4
San Francisco SPCA, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA
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Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95617, USA
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International Animal Welfare Training Institute, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95617, USA
7
Department of Animal Science, University of California Davis, Davis, CA 95617, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1411; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081411
Received: 11 July 2020 / Revised: 7 August 2020 / Accepted: 10 August 2020 / Published: 13 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Donkey and Mule Research)
Donkeys originally evolved as a desert animal, and unlike the horse (which flees or runs away from danger), the donkey fights to avert danger. Hence, donkeys are more stoic and tend to express fear, pain, and discomfort in more subtle ways than horses. For owners and practitioners, it can prove to be challenging to identify donkeys in a state of pain or discomfort until the animal has reached an advanced degree of disease, at which point veterinary intervention may be too late. This study aims to identify signs of pain from both facial and body parameters in donkeys undergoing a surgical procedure. Scores were based on noted signs of discomfort/pain from the observed body language of the face, such as the eyes, ears, nose, nostrils, and muzzle, along with their overall body appearance. The study demonstrated that developing a scoring system donkey grimace scale proved to be accurate in identifying discomfort related to pain. However, the accuracy of the scale can be influenced by the observers’ gender, level of donkey knowledge, and experience.
The objectives of this study were to establish a donkey ethogram, followed by a donkey grimace scale to be applied to donkeys pre- and post-castration and to test if there was a notable difference in scores based on observer knowledge, gender, and experience, which could reveal possible discomfort/pain. Nine healthy male adult donkeys were surgically castrated. Fifty-four photos were selected from frontal, lateral, and body views taken pre- and post-castration. Observers ranging from minimal to extensive knowledge and levels of experience based on education and hours/month spent with donkeys scored six photos/donkey on a scale of 0–2 (0 = not present, 1 = moderately present, 2 = obviously present). Scores were based on body language and facial parameters: Ears down, ears back, eye white showing, glazed look, orbital tightening, eyes round shape, nostril tension, eyes narrow shape, muzzle tension, and abnormal stance and overall perception of the animal being in pain. Level of experience and knowledge, as well as gender significantly (p < 0.001), affected observers’ ability to accurately score images. The study suggests that the most significant indicators of pain in donkeys are overall appearance and abnormal body stance provided their sensitivity, specificity and accuracy values of 63.18%, 62.07%, and 62.60%, respectively. View Full-Text
Keywords: donkey; Equus asinus; facial expression; pain; grimace scale donkey; Equus asinus; facial expression; pain; grimace scale
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MDPI and ACS Style

Orth, E.K.; Navas González, F.J.; Iglesias Pastrana, C.; Berger, J.M.; Jeune, S.S.l.; Davis, E.W.; McLean, A.K. Development of a Donkey Grimace Scale to Recognize Pain in Donkeys (Equus asinus) Post Castration. Animals 2020, 10, 1411. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081411

AMA Style

Orth EK, Navas González FJ, Iglesias Pastrana C, Berger JM, Jeune SSl, Davis EW, McLean AK. Development of a Donkey Grimace Scale to Recognize Pain in Donkeys (Equus asinus) Post Castration. Animals. 2020; 10(8):1411. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081411

Chicago/Turabian Style

Orth, Emma K.; Navas González, Francisco J.; Iglesias Pastrana, Carlos; Berger, Jeannine M.; Jeune, Sarah S.l.; Davis, Eric W.; McLean, Amy K. 2020. "Development of a Donkey Grimace Scale to Recognize Pain in Donkeys (Equus asinus) Post Castration" Animals 10, no. 8: 1411. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081411

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