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A donkey, policies and society

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Pictured, from left: Heather Bekkers, Heather Bunker, Juanita (the burro), Kaeley Blaney, Angela Wiegert

No, this isn’t a story about political symbols.

It’s about how Juanita, an “adopted government burro,” visited earlier this month with students in faculty member Karen Dalke’s first-year seminar class in Urban and Regional Studies. The seminar is titled Animals and Society.

Juanita originally lived on public lands in the Mojave Desert before she was adopted and moved to a more domestic setting in Wisconsin. Dalke, the seminar’s instructor, pointed out to her students that over her relatively short life the burro has been variously “classified” as a national heritage species, feral animal, an invasive species, beast of burden, farm animal, and pet.

Among topics addressed in the Animals and Society seminar is exploring how classifying animals can impact our social constructions and ultimately treatment of the species themselves.

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