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Operation Donkey Airlift

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Video by Lynn Beittel, Visionary Video

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

A herd of wild Waikoloa donkeys were loaded into trailers Friday and hit the road – the first step in their relocation to a ranch in California.

The trip took them to Los Angles and then on to Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, about three hours away in the mountains of Tehachapi.

While most of the nightingales will be available for adoption in California, several will continue their journey to Eagle Eye Sanctuary in Sonoma, and the Humane Society of the United States’ Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas.

Mark and Amy Meyers, who run the Tehachapi sanctuary, accompanied the donkeys on the flight from Kona to Los Angeles along with Dr. Brady Bergin, the Big Island veterinarian who helped spearhead the donkey reduction and relocation mission.

The Waikoloa Donkey Rescue and Rehoming Project, sponsored in part by HSUS, was initiated last year and already has captured, sterilized and adopted out more than 200 donkeys across Hawaii.

The donkeys, also known as the Kona Nightingales, have been encroaching on the nearby Waikoloa for several years, a problem exacerbated by the recent drought conditions.

Ranchers, farmers and gardeners found more and more starving donkeys on their property, just looking for food. However, their presence also led to traffic accidents and caused concern in the community.

The airlift has reduced the Waikoloa herd to about 200 and the rescue and sterilization operation will continue in an effort to control their numbers, the HSUS reports.

According to the HSUS, it is preferable for the remaining wild donkeys to stay in Hawaii, although a new home for the entire herd probably can’t be found locally without appropriate land being designated for sanctuary.

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