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September 21, 2011

Hawaii Donkeys Say Aloha to New Lives at Sanctuary

There are so many dedicated groups focusing on the welfare of animals. And we often do the most good when we work together. When The HSUS is called in by local law enforcement to rescue animals in crisis, we're frequently joined by other animal groups that help care for these pets at our emergency shelters. We typically coordinate with our Emergency Services Placement Partners to take in animals from these rescues and find them loving homes.

Two donkeys airlifted from Hawaii to California sanctuary
Danny Moloshok

We've been working in just this fashion in Hawaii, where The HSUS’s State Affairs and Equine Protection departments have teamed up with island groups, veterinarians, and a local cattle rancher to help hundreds of donkeys at risk of starvation or being gunned down. These equines came from a group that was brought to the Big Island to work on coffee plantations, but when they were no longer needed, some were set loose, triggering the establishment of a herd that eventually swelled to 400-600 animals. Over time, especially with residential development, area residents became concerned about donkeys wandering into neighborhoods and roadways, causing accidents and other problems.

A local cattle rancher, Stan Boteilho (whose animals were beginning to compete for food and water with the hungry donkeys on his land) reached out to a local veterinarian, Dr. Brady Bergin, who contacted Inga Gibson, The HSUS’s Hawaii state director. That’s when the Waikoloa Donkey Rescue and Rehoming Project began. Since 2010, we've been humanely capturing and neutering many of the animals, and many have also been adopted locally. The coalition also includes the Malama Waikoloa Nightingales and CB Horse Rescue, and Eagle Eye Sanctuary Foundation in California is providing generous support.

After being sterilized by Dr. Bergin and a team of veterinarians organized by the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, and then loaded into special containers for humane transport, these donkeys went on the first plane ride of their lives—from Hawaii to California. They are now settling in at the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Tehachapi. Six of these island equines will have a permanent home at our Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Texas—which was originally conceived as a rescue site for burros airlifted from the Grand Canyon in 1979.

Every animal deserves our love and compassion, including these donkeys in Hawaii. We're glad to provide funding and hands-on support to put these animals on the road to better lives. If you'd like to help, learn more here about adopting, volunteering, or providing sanctuary for the other donkeys in Hawaii.

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