The giving of animal gifts was mentioned thousands of years ago very early on in Bible times. For example, to help settle a dispute between two brothers the book of Genesis mentions that (Jacob) chose a substantial gift for Esau his brother from the livestock he had with him at that particular time – it included 220 goats, 220 sheep, 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows, 10 bulls & 30 donkeys. He divided the livestock into three, staggering departure times of each third of the livestock being sent to Esau – and yes, the gifts helped to heal the rift between the two brothers!In the days of famous King Solomon, the giving of animal gifts to the King was common practice. In the book of 1 Kings it mentions that every year those who came to see the King brought him gifts of weaponry, silver & gold, clothing, spices, mules and horse gifts.What about in more recent times? We hear in Muslim countries and in parts of Africa of the custom of animal gifts being given as part of a dowry: the goods given by a brides family to the family of her groom; conversely, we also hear of ‘bride-wealth’ or ‘bride-price’, which can be anything from animal gifts to jewellery, money, houses, or whatever, given from the grooms family to the brides family on the occasion of a marriage.Some well-known charities also promote arrangements whereby animal gifts can be given by better-off people in the Western world to aid the poor in third-world countries. Animals such as goats, sheep, cows and camels are sourced in the third-world country, vaccinated and transported and given to a poor family, thus providing milk to drink or sell, dung to act as fertiliser for crops, and kids, lambs or calves to take to market. A camel gift would also provide the option of much-needed transport!Yes, it is true to say that the giving of animal gifts has been happening for thousands of years, and no doubt in many cultures will continue as a means of providing a measure of security for poorer families in marriage, aiding the poor in third-world countries, and for many other reasons. And when the gift is given from the heart, how that benefits not only the recipient, but also the giver! The satisfaction we can gain, the warm feeling in our heart knowing we have contributed to a real need!