In a wee pasture tucked between a hospital and a suburb in Palo Alto, California, there are two donkeys named Perry and Buddy. While these simple donkeys seem like nothing more than a pair of odd community pets, one of them is actually a sort of movie star.
If Perry (the smaller of the two) seems familiar, it may be because he was the model for “Donkey” in the Shrek movies. In addition, during Perry’s previous life he served as a companion donkey for horses that needed to be calmed down by his mellow presence. While Perry has been called “the world’s most famous donkey,” his companion Buddy, a 21-year-old brown donkey of no particular fame, keeps him humble.
The two donkeys spend their days doing donkey things like eating hay and braying, and will also come up to the gate to be petted by visiting children (and adults). The donkeys even receive fan mail in a mailbox by their corral, and can be spotted going on walks in nearby Bol Park with volunteer handlers each Sunday morning.
Visitors will also see a nameplate for Mickey, a donkey who passed to greener pastures in 1998. Mickey was the last of the Bol family donkeys, the herd of donkeys that originally lived on this land in the 1930s, and who were famous themselves for escaping and walking around town in an orderly line. Who could have guessed that Palo Alto had such a rich donkey history?
The Atlas Obscura Podcast is a short, daily celebration of all the world’s strange and wondrous places. Check out this episode about the Barron Park donkeys.
Know Before You Go
The donkeys live along the bike path between Bol Park and Gunn High School. From the playground structure at the park, head south on the bike path about 200 yards. Immediately after you cross the bridge the donkeys will be on the right.
Children, as well as adults, are encouraged to draw pictures or write a mail to be deposited in a provided mailbox. Feeding the donkeys is highly discouraged.