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‘It almost seemed impossible’: Crews rescue donkeys stranded on island

Published: May. 26, 2022 at 1:58 PM MST
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MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. (KOVR) – Two donkeys stranded on an island in Northern California are now safe thanks to the efforts of some wildlife experts.

Whether he had a frog in his pocket or brought a blue-bellied lizard to the dinner table, Daniel Burton always had a love for the less appreciated wildlife.

“They’re just so much more than just an animal,” he said.

Burton is now the owner of Urban Trapping Wildlife Control, rescuing nuisance animals that get a bad rap.

“Most animals we work with have some sort of taboo or bad reputation,” he said. “They get kind of a bad name because of it.”

Or bad nicknames, like the donkey.

Most recently, Burton and several agencies in Northern California rescued Jack and Jennette from an island in Lake McClure.

“It almost seemed impossible,” Burton said.

After weeks of trying, the group got the go-ahead to get the donkeys off the island and into a doctor’s care, loading them onto a barge and driving them across the water to safety.

“It was a huge relief,” Burton said.

But how did the donkeys get to the island in the first place?

Burton said drought caused low water levels on Lake McClure, which allowed the donkey herd to walk across the lake to a small island for safety.

“They were trying to get away from predators,” Burton said. “There’s a lot of mountain lions around Lake McClure.”

When water levels rose again, only the healthy donkeys could swim back. The herd waded across the water, leaving behind two of their injured own.

“They’ll go up into the foothills for food and every couple of days they come back to down to the bank,” Burton said. “Their herd never really left as long as they could hear them and see them.”

Rescuers finally stepped in to help the two donkeys, delivering them to a vet to care for them.

“Knowing the donkeys aren’t sitting on that island there, not borderline starving, they’re not going to drown … it was such a relief,” Burton said.

One of the rescued donkeys has already been reunited with her mother.

In 2019, a wild donkey was rescued from the island after being stuck there for more than two years.

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