Donkeys hold a proud place in Nativity scenes depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.
With their unmistakable long ears, deep, dark eyes and fuzzy foreheads, they’ve carried the weight of humans for centuries.
But a group of them that Nancy Beyerl rescued last week appear a far cry from those depicted in Christmastime scenes.
Scared of people, one of them named Whiskey stood motionless in the back of his pen Thursday at Beyerl’s Peaceful Acres Horses rescue ranch while she explained proudly how she found him a permanent home.
He’ll be able to head to his new home in a couple weeks, but he’s one of the lucky ones Beyerl was able to get adopted.
She and volunteer Linda Wilson brought the young donkey to Pattersonville last week, along with a group of seven others and one mule.
Wilson, a cancer survivor, first went to Peaceful Acres during the facility’s Susan G. Komen Sponsored Retreat earlier this year. Wilson said she fell in love with the place, and she now sponsors rescued animals there with a monthly donation while heading there to help when she can.
Thanks to a couple who put up what Beyerl calls “bail” money, she purchased all of the donkeys before they could be sold at a New Jersey auction where animals are bought to be shipped overseas and eaten.
Two of the emaciated donkeys — likely less than a year old — didn’t survive very long once they arrived. Toughie and Buddy hadn’t eaten in so long they were unable to go back to a normal diet and they just “shut down.”
“I have not cried so hard,” said Beyerl, who with help drove about eight hours round-trip the week of Thanksgiving to pick them up.
Buddy and Toughie didn’t have much of a chance — they hadn’t yet grown all their teeth.
“They should’ve still been with their mothers at that age,” Beyerl said.
The two donkeys are the first animals to die in the five years Peaceful Acres has been operating as a site where rescued animals play a key role in rehabilitation programs, team building and wellness retreats that help humans recover from trauma and tragedy.
Two of the female donkeys, referred to as jennies, are being cared for at Erin Pashley’s Victoria Acres in Duanesburg.
It could be a good time for the remaining donkeys since it’s the holiday season, when people are often in the giving mood, volunteers said Thursday. They need food and bedding, and Beyerl this week put out a call for help.
Volunteer Carol McArdle, treasurer of the Peaceful Acres board, said a gift in the name of a loved one could go a long way during the season of giving. And at Peaceful Acres, there’s quite a large need: With more than 60 animals, it costs about $24,000 a month for feed, bedding and electricity.
A bale of hay costs $5, grain is $20 per bag and bedding the animals can lie on costs $5 a bag.
Learn more about the donkeys at http://peacefulacreshorses.com.