New Brunswick — In a very sad turn of events, a wild donair, reportedly the last of its kind, perished today in a New Brunswick nature preserve located in Kent County. According to sources, the donair, affectionately named “Stumbles” for his frequent tendency to stumble over, died of head trauma after repeated skull collisions with a stubborn cliffside. “We always tried to keep an eye on him,” said conservationist Todd O’Donnell of the donair prone to self-injury. “But sometimes he just wobbled out of sight and in this case it ended tragically.”
Few Maritime consumers are aware, but today’s donair meat is actually comprised of seasoned cattle beef and meant to resemble the taste of the very recently extinct wild donair. Wild donair meat was banned in 1952 after the dim and majestic animal was put on the protected species list, with over-hunting being the chief cause of the animal’s steep decline in population.
“The wild donair once populated both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the millions,” said zoologist Karen Hynes. “Natives in the area took care not to over-hunt them and I think even felt bad for them; however, when the first European settlers arrived they took no such pity or care and, over time, numbers of the dull and succulent animals were slowly depleted.”
Indeed the name “donair,” according to historic records, was first used by French explorer Jacques Cartier, and is a Latin term meaning “meat on legs.”
“It’s no wonder they were hunted by early settlers with such frequency,” said Hynes. “They were very, very easy to kill. For those who’ve never seen a wild donair, they resembled the American buffalo but with no horns, and they were more circular, which gave them a sort of haphazard gait. Also their eyes were about the size of beads, rendering them nearly blind.
“So that being said,” she added, “to take one down you didn’t need a hunting strategy or even a spear, you needed only to walk up to one and push it over.”
As to how such apparently ill-equipped animals were once able to achieve such numbers in some of the Maritime provinces, Hynes attributes their success to mating alone. “Unlike most grazing mammals, the wild donair did not have a mating season — they mated all year round and with anything in sight. Males would mount females, females would mount males, males would mount each other (as would females) and both sexes would mount any large object they could scarcely make out with their tiny eyes, such as boulders, thorn bushes and even natural predators like the black bear.”
Hynes said the key to the wild donair’s success was also another cause for its demise. “Because they were so shortsighted and would attempt to mate with anything, for them to breed successfully there needed to be many of them and in exceptionally close proximity in order to bumble into each other. When the population began to thin, their numbers declined exponentially.”
As to what will be done with the remains of the last living donair? No consensus has been reached yet, but environmental scientists in the province are proposing to cook and consume the animal in order to study what exactly made it so appealing to the tongue.