Mark Meyers of the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue said it was the biggest air shipment of donkeys ever, at least to his knowledge. Friday, September 16, 120 feral Waikoloa donkeys were shipped via Kalitta Air’s 747 from Kona’s Keahole InternationalAirport to Los Angeles. Once they arrived, packed six to a crate, they were sent by truck to the rescue ranch in Tehachapi, California, just north of Los Angeles before the California Central Valley.
Inga Gibson of the Humane Society of the United States said of the up to 600 wild donkeys estimated to be around Waikoloa around a year ago, the population has been reduced by around 60%. Around 200 donkeys were adopted here in Hawaii. The 120 donkeys which flew to California were all microchipped, blood-tested and certified disease-free as required by California import laws, and if males, castrated. Some of the donkeys will stay at the 140-acre Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, joining around 350 donkeys already there. After they acclimate to their new environment, they will be made available for adoption. Some will move to the Eagle Eye Sanctuary in Sonoma and the Humane Society of the United States’ Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.
Donkeys were originally brought to Hawaii Island to work on coffee farms. They were called Kona Nightingales because of their braying. Charming as that might have been at one time, Waikoloa residents grew less enchanted with them as the population grew and drought forced them closer to Waikoloa Village. And they created dangerous situations when they crossed the highways. Waikoloa resident Anika Glass created the Malama Waikoloa Nightingale organization to help deal with the situation humanely. Waimea veterinarian Dr. Brady Bergin helped develop a solution and also provided free care, including arranging for the castrations and flying with the nightingales to California to ensure their well being.
Inga Gibson said a generous donor funded the air lift, at a cost of several thousands of dollars. And Glass said there are many generous volunteers, donors, and supporters in the Hawaii Island community who helped make the airlift rescue and local adoptions possible. She accompanied the donkeys to California and said on Saturday, they saw their first California sunrise.
Big Island Video News covered the departure…thanks to Dave Corrigan and Lynn Beitel for their work: www.bigislandvideonews.com/2011/09/17/video-over-100-waikoloa-donkeys-board-plane-for-california/