Mules: Joking about a serious business

2010.02.24 - 13:30:36 /

Colleagues from the US Associated Press (AP) recently made a joke of the concerns the agrarian authorities expressed to monitor and promote the herd of mules in the Cuban mountains.


They were based in a piece of news from our Agency, dated in Santiago de Cuba, which tackled the realization of the national census on the species, whose numbers are in sharp decline nowadays, despite its high use value for transportation in the difficult road conditions of  the mountains.


Surely the Anglo-Saxon humor (much appreciated by us) prevented them from realizing that mules are as important to mountain areas as trucks are to urbanized areas.


There are places where the Cuban geography where the only way to carry the coffee beans or other products are on the backs of mules, animals prepared for their resistance to backtrack on the foothills, regardless of the steep slopes or obstacles they find on their path.


Even for human transportation, in places where people make a climb that will bring colors to the face of climbers, the sure-footed mules move uphill or downhill with ease.


The reproductive strategy of this kind of horses made the government at one time to establish centers for such purposes, so that procreation and parental care will ensure the growth of the herds which are so necessary to life and development in the highlands.


The mule is the sterile hybrid resulting from crossing the donkey or ass with a mare and its characteristic is the strength and height. It is prized by farmers, has long and slender limbs, with narrow hooves stronger than the horse’s.


It is used in tasks requiring strength or resistance as a means of transport, in agriculture for plowing fields and other tasks like drawing water from wells using a treadmill.


It combines the best qualities of its parents: it has the sobriety, patience, endurance and safe passage of the donkey, and the vigor, strength and courage of the horse, with natural resistance to diseases and insects.


American farmers in areas of clay soil found that the mules are better to pull the plow, says an article published on the website of the American University of Missouri, which underlines the widespread use of the species in that state, where they say originated the expression "stubborn as a Missouri mule" (stubborn as a Missouri mule).


Its sterility is attributed to different numbers of chromosomes of the species out of which it comes because the donkeys have nuclei of 62 chromosomes, while horses have 64. All the males are sterile because of a problem in the seminal gland, but the female can produce fertile eggs.


Despite such serious analysis that echoes the northern prestigious educational institution, the humorous AP wire went around the world with poor elements and published in 147digital media, under the suggestive title "Cuba asks mules to raise a hoof to be counted"


I do not know what was the intention, but it is clear that the message sent by colleagues shocked everyone by his original way to present it and reported that we on the island highly value the use of the hybrid species, as much as in Missouri: I wish other important messages had such luck!

(Agencia Cubana de Noticias)

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