It is an interesting reaction. I was curious to see how Ramsey and Emma would react so I tried it last weekend. I was using my iPod rather then a laptop and Ramsey's initial reaction was to try and climb in my lap. As I was juggling iPod, camera and a baby donkey, the video is a bit rough. Interesting though and for those who want to hear what Ramsey's voice is like.....
I only tried it once and I don't think I would do it again. Both Emma and Ramsey got quite agitated and were on high alert for the rest of the day. I can speculate that the original donkey bray playing on the laptop is an alarm bray or that Emma felt that her baby was being threatened, but I really don't know. I do know that Emma has at least four different brays that I have heard. She also has a number of other very soft noises that she makes that clearly have different meanings. To my human ears, they are hard to differentiate, but watching how Ramsey responds to them, it is obvious that they are different and distinct.
Emma does not bray very often, but she clearly is trying to communicate something when she does. One is an alarm or warning bray. I heard this bray when I saw a fox in the pasture once and again when a couple of stray dogs wandered through. Her second bray is aimed directly at me when she wants something specific from me. I heard this bray fairly often last winter any time I was 4 nanoseconds late for breakfast, if she got cold and wanted her blanket on or if she just wanted attention. I can't say that I always figured out exactly what she wanted me to do, but I know there was something specific she had in mind every time.
The third bray was one I heard in the first few days after she came here. It was the searching, seeking, lost sound of a young donkey suddenly separated from her family and the only home she had ever known. About a week after she came here and she started to settle in and be more relaxed, she stopped calling for her lost family. However, right at this time, I heard a single bray that I hope to never, ever hear again. It was a long, mournful, heartbreaking sound. It was the sound of goodbye.
This last bray was not only very distinct, it was a very distinct event. Some may argue that I am projecting my own thoughts onto her, but I don't believe that is true. That moment was a turning point in Emma's acceptance of her new home and new friends and her behavior prior to and after that moment prove it.
I don't pretend to understand a donkey's language. I can observe it and I think I get some of the more basic and obvious signals, but I have no doubt at all that there is much more that we just can't see or hear. I like to think that someday we will learn how to listen.