Hawaiian Donkeys: Work Animals Turned to Pests
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Along the roads of Big Island sit signs saying “donkey crossing.” What’s up with Hawaii having donkeys? Well, there were about 500 donkeys on the island - descendants from the pack animals used on coffee and agricultural farms up until the 1950s. When Jeeps replaced them, they were let loose and roamed the islands for decades. In the evenings, the donkeys would venture along the coast between Kua and Kiholo Bays to drink from spring-fed watering holes and eat Kiawe seed pods. When a drought hit, the donkeys began to migrate into residential areas in search of water in local swimming pools and they would also tear up golf course greens. Residents threatened to kill them and turn them into jerky! As a solution, the Humane Society and Big Island residents prepared the donkeys for adoption by giving them veterinarian checkups and doing background checks on potential hosts. Now donkeys in Kona are mostly gone, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you may be able to spot one. Just don’t get ‘em confused with the wild goats!
Want to catch sight of a couple Hawaiian donkeys?
Check out our Kohala Coast Backcountry Tour!