A fluffy, chocolate-colored donkey has moved into Barron Park.
Named Buddy, the 21-year-old miniature donkey arrived to share the paddock adjacent to Bol Park with the neighborhood's other famous miniature, Perry. Buddy arrived on Saturday morning to be Perry's new companion, lead donkey handler Jenny Kiratli said on Sunday.
Perry's previous companion, a female standard-sized donkey named Jenny, was euthanized on Nov. 18 after an extended illness. Perry had been braying for his lost companion as donkeys are herd animals and need to be around others of their breed, Kiratli said.
So far, it looks like the two will get along well.
"When they first met, they went right up mouth to mouth and they nuzzled muzzles for a long time. They circled each other for minutes," Kiratli said.
In typical donkey style, Perry then had to let Buddy know who was boss of the paddock.
"Perry rushed him. He's a little Napoleon," she said.
Whereas Miner Forty Niner, Perry's companion prior to Jenny, was the alpha donkey, Jenny let Perry believe he was superior. Buddy seems like he won't take over, Kiratli said.
When Perry displayed his dominance, Buddy retreated to a more secluded spot in the paddock and just kept an eye on things, but the two also began playing, running and kicking at each other, as donkeys do: one bites and kicks and then runs off, she said.
But Buddy has his own way of communicating his presence.
"He has a little bray," Kiratli said.
For now, Perry is the one hogging the paddock gate, the place where the donkeys greet visitors. "We need people to give Perry lots of attention. When Jenny came, he was kind of ignored. Everybody was excited to meet the new donkey," she said.
On Sunday, donkey handlers Michael Holland and Stephanie Kaplan took Perry and Buddy for a walk in Bol Park where the donkeys could greet the community. Kiratli was there, giving them hugs.
"He's a very cuddly, friendly donkey. He's super child-friendly and he was led on walks. He won't kick or bite," she said.
Woodside resident Kerry DeBenedetti donated Buddy, who is one of two donkeys she owned. She heard that handlers at The Donkey Project, which cares for the animals, were looking for another companion for Perry.
DeBenedetti owned Buddy for three years. She adopted him from a friend in town who was moving away, she said. Buddy was cuddly and affectionate, but Curly, her standard-sized donkey, never warmed up to him.
A friend asked DeBenedetti if she knew of any donkeys that might be adoptable by Barron Park.
"I thought of loaning Buddy to Perry as a temporary companion," she said, but after talking to some people who work with donkeys, she decided to donate him, she said.
"The setup there is a donkey paradise. There are lots of places to explore. I thought for Buddy, it was a better place for him," she said.
DeBenedetti, who also has horses, said that it wasn't practical or safe for her to walk the two donkeys at a time. Buddy, who is affectionate, would benefit from going to a place where he will be around children, she said.
Her only concern is that people will feed the donkeys. "There's nothing worse than overfeeding a donkey. They need high-fiber, low-nutrient food, not carrots and apples," she said.
DeBenedetti was at the paddock on Saturday and watched the two donkeys interact. If it doesn't work out, she would take Buddy back. Seeing them together, she was confident that Buddy found a suitable place in Barron Park, she said.
"I have a feeling that's going to be his new home," she said.
The Donkey Project has incurred many veterinary expenses over the past few months while caring for Jenny. After she died, people made donations.
"We're really appreciative of the donations that have come in," she said, noting that quite a few people opened their wallets and hearts to help defray the costs. But the project still has a way to go to make up the costs. Donations are the only source of support, she said.
Anyone who wants to make a donation can visit barronparkdonkeys.org.