Most of you may know “Solar Donkeys” as the name of my ill-fated 1987 sci-fi rock opera, but as is so often the case, life is finally imitating art. The desperate need to stay connected being the mother of 21st century invention, village herders in Turkey found the most obvious solution to keeping their cellphones juiced on those long nights out with the flock. They mounted solar panels to donkeys, which may sound strange at first until you realize they didn’t have access to llamas.
Now I can’t imagine why a Turkish herders needs a constant connection to his Foursquare account (“Just checking in. Day 32, still in a field next to my robodonkey”), but that herder is probably wondering why I think the world needs my up-to-the-minute opinions on the latest episode of America’s Got Talent, so que sera, sera.
The donkey panels can generate five to seven kilowatts of electricity, enough to charge a cellphone or laptop, and the donkeys also provide a great shady spot while you’re Yelping your latest pasture review, provided you are willing to lie under a donkey.
As renewables become more affordable, keep an eye out for the geothermal gopher and the hydroelectric wombat, but for now the solar donkey is the only mammalian power station we’re aware of and we think they’re great. Want to stay connected at Coachella? Bring an e-donkey. Think those hand cranked phone chargers are too much work? Donkeys make great camping buddies.