The Barron Park donkeys have returned and fans of these favorite Palo Alto animals can now join up to care for them. You may remember that after Niner’s passing earlier this year, his companion Perry left town for a while. Perry has returned after a six-week stay with a Salinas veterinarian and has a new partner: Jenny, a gray-brown Jerusalem donkey (which have a distinctive black cross on their backs because it was believed that these donkeys carried Jesus to Jerusalem) from way south in Santa Clarita with unusually long ears and the loudest bray you’ll ever hear. The pair arrived Nov. 15.
Even more exciting for donkey lovers is that the volunteer group that oversees the donkeys’ care wants the public’s help to aid the transition for both donkeys.
Even with 14 volunteers, more are needed for the morning and afternoon feedings, general grooming and walks, says Susan Carsen, one of the volunteers. Carsen says that “The work is really akin to that of horses and even cats or dogs,” so if you’ve owned or taken care of any animal before, this training will be a cinch.
No experience with animals? Don’t fret. The program will train you and you only do what you want to do. If you’re not comfortable taking donkeys for walks but enjoy feeding and grooming them, that’s fine, says Carsen.
The volunteers began the training program to expand community involvement, from which they have reaped huge benefits from in recent months. Carsen says a recent $10,000 grant from the City of Palo Alto for the donkeys is a “real indication of how the community feels about them and how important they are to holding Palo Alto together.”
The donkeys have been a part of Palo Alto since 1934 when Stanford professor Cornelis Bol and his wife Josina owned the then-pasture, later acquired by residents of the neighborhood. The resulting park that encompasses the pasture was aptly named Cornelis Bol Park and has continued the donkey tradition ever since. As a volunteer for the last 15 years, Carsen has seen the way these donkeys become a vital part of many lives. Her neighbor’s daughter, who spent time as a volunteer for the donkeys, is now in college and “came back to see the donkeys and is thinking of becoming a veterinarian.”
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer or just want to see the donkeys, you can find them and their handlers at the private pasture behind Bol Park at 395 Laguna Ave, Palo Alto or contact them at barronparkdonkeys.org/.
Volunteers must be 18+ to take care of the donkeys alone (16–17 must have a signed waiver) and children aged 10–15 can only volunteer under parent and volunteer supervision. Training takes three sessions (one per week for half an hour to an hour). All volunteers must be Palo Alto residents or a member of the Palo Alto school community.