September 19, 2011--
Hawaiian donkeys formerly living as feral animals on Hawaii’s Big Island are finding new homes after being airlifted to California last weekend with help from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The effort is part of a plan to reduce the overpopulation of the animals on the island.
The donkeys are being relocated to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Tehachapi California. Tracy Miller, manager of Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue in Tehachapi, said Sunday the donkeys are “none the worse for wear” after the long flight and a two-hour drive Saturday that followed it, according to the Washington Post.
The feral, starving donkeys were discovered by Stan Boteilho when some wandered onto his cattle land. He took action and connected with a local veterinarian Dr. Brady Bergin and the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and developed a plan to move the donkeys. The donkeys were gelded before being sent to the rescue in California.
Donkeys Contribution to Hawaiian Mercantile History
The first donkey in Hawaii may have come from one of the three who accompanied Richard Charlton, the first British Consul for Hawaii, to Honolulu in the fall of 1824. The Charlton donkeys, soon after their arrival, began contributing to farming of coffee and sugar in Manoa Valley
Kona coffee grown in the hills of the Big Island is considered one of best the world, and the donkey population before WWII made transporting the beans off the mountain in heavy bags possible as they were strapped across them. The donkeys were sure footed and negotiated the narrow paths down the mountains.
The donkeys in Waikoloa that are causing problems were not always considered a nuisance. They were originally brought to the big island and used in the working of the coffee plantations, and they became known as “Nightingales” by locals. The donkeys were given the name “Nightingales” because of the noise the lonely donkeys make at night when everyone went to bed. As they began to get lonely at night the donkeys would cry out to each other, thus reminding their owners of a nocturnal songbird called a nightingale. At the end of World War II local farmers began to switch to more modern machinery such as surplus army jeeps because they were easier and cheaper to maintain than the sometimes stubborn donkeys.