The idea of a pet donkey running away to lead a herd of wild elk is living rent-free in our heads. 😆 Here’s more on that and other nature news that caught our attention this week. 

🔹Diesel the donkey went missing five years ago, spooked by a cougar (not that kind!) while hiking with his owner, Dave Drewry. A few months later, he was spotted on a trail cam, but that was the last anyone heard of Diesel.

That was until three months ago when a hunter named Max Fennell made a surprising discovery. Fennell shared on his Instagram that during a hunt in Auburn, California, he saw a herd of elk (a type of deer)… with a donkey as the leader. “I can’t get over seeing it, and I’m amazed that the donkey looks happy and healthy,” Fennell said. Drewry confirmed that the donkey was indeed Diesel. Speaking to Inside Edition, Terrie Drewry said they were happy to see him alive but would leave him to his wild life. “The fact of the matter is, he’s running wild and free out there with that elk herd. He’s earned his freedom at this point,” she said. 

It speaks to a larger issue around pets needing to actually just be animals, as addressed in a recent New York Times article. It’s a complex topic so give the full article a read if you’re interested in the research – WhatsApp readers can find the link in our newsletter version linked above. 

🔹Speaking of wild things… Meet Wild Thang, an eight-year-old Pekingnese recently crowned The World’s Ugliest Dog. With a face only a mother could love, Wild Thang, from Coos Bay, Oregon, beat seven other ugly doggos to clinch the title. This is Wild Thang’s fifth time entering, and we guess the fifth time’s the… charm? Well done to Mr Thang. We still think you’re adorable, though.🐶

🔹Finally, the man who taught millions about the wonders of nature, Sir David Attenborough, was honoured with a portrait commissioned by the Royal Society on Tuesday. The portrait was painted by Johnathan Yeo, who also painted King Charles’s (slightly vampiric) first official portrait. 

The painting shows Sir David in a sea of green, sitting on a chair with his hands clasped around his knees, as though he’s about to tell us about marsupials. The Royal Society commissioned Yeo to create the piece to celebrate 40 years of Sir David being a fellow

The 98-year-old Sir David expressed gratitude to natural history filmmakers and the many dedicated scientists who willingly shared their work with him and the world. “To spend so much of my life looking at the natural world and attempting to convey to others its amazing complexity, beauty and increasingly its fragility has been a great privilege,” he said. 💚