Lillie, one of the mammoth donkeys at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, and the refuge’s therapy donkey. She is said to be quite the gentle soul and will comfort those who need it. (Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge/Facebook)

VIDEO: ‘Mammoth’ donkeys stand tall at B.C. interior sanctuary

Big animals prove they have a gentle soul, quiet nature

While donkeys are well-known for being a small, sturdy cousin to the horse, not all of them are quaint little creatures – in fact, some of them have come to be called “mammoth” due to their uncommonly large size.

Mammoth donkeys are not a unique species, but a line of donkeys that were originally bred to be hardy work animals. They are rumored to have quite an interesting origin story, reported to have originally been bred by figures such as George Washington to create sturdy animals for long days working fields and hauling supplies. They are also used to cross-breed huge mules and packhorses.

READ MORE: More help for donkeys at Turtle Valley

At the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge in the Shuswap, a group of mammoth donkeys live happily amongst their smaller brothers and sisters, and owner Shirley Mainprize says they are known to be friendly, personable creatures.

(Facebook/Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge)

“They are called the gentle giants, and that kind of sums up how they are to be around. They are generally less territorial, very friendly and were commonly used for work because they are easy to handle,” she says. “They are popular with our visitors – but not as much as the cute mini-donkeys, people love them.”

Mainprize says the refuge currently houses about 14 of the mammoth donkeys, some of whom can trace their lineage back to the first of the big breed to ever reside at the refuge. Initially, a family of mammoth donkeys came to the refuge but, over time and due to some health issues, much of the original family has died off.

READ MORE: Hay shortage takes its toll on Shuswap animal rescues

Two of the more prominent mammoths in the herd are Lillie, the refuge’s therapy donkey who is known as one of the most gentle donkeys in the herd, and Kiki, who is said to be “very handsome and carry himself with pride.” Kiki has been trained for riding due to being extremely calm, making him popular with visitors.

“They have a bit of a unique personality and generally get a lot of interest from the visitors. They are not as high-energy as the mini donkeys that run around all the time,” Mainprize says. “They get along well with other donkeys, but they tend to have their favourites among the herd and buddy up.”

Mammoth donkeys aren’t especially common in B.C. because they originate from the eastern parts of the U.S., but Mainprize says there are a few reasons they aren’t seen as frequently as other varieties.

“Regular donkeys tend to be easier to care for in terms of what they need each day, but they can also be harder to handle,” she says.

READ MORE: Donkeys both give and receive help

 

Lillie, a mammoth donkey at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, standing next to Santa Claus during a Christmas event; the side-by-side comparison shows off her true size, standing much taller than the average donkey who falls far short of human height. (Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge/Facebook)

Kiki, one of the mammoth donkeys at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. His calm, quiet nature made him a perfect fit to be trained for riding. (Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge/Facebook)

Just Posted

Fire at Canyon RV Resort

Small fire contained to storage shed and immediate vicinity

Man caught driving drunk with three young children in car

Multiple calls to RCMP for driver swerving back and forth on highway through Kootenay National Park

Jointly-hosted tea at museum

Strawberry Social 2 p.m. June 15th at museum grounds

The pen is mightier than the board

Local group of kids plans to put out regular newsletter as fundraising initiative

Celebrate Pride in the Park at 2nd annual event

Weekend of festivities June 14-15th

VIDEO: ‘Avengers: Endgame’ to be re-released with new footage

‘Avatar’ holds global box office record at $2.788 billion, while ‘Endgame’ stands at $2.743 billion…

B.C. teen killed by falling tree near Victoria

Second youth also injured in freak incident during field trip at Camp Barnard near Sooke

Elias Pettersson wins Calder Trophy as NHL’s top rookie

Vancouver forward first Canuck to win award since Pavel Bure in 1992

FVRD chair calls B.C. incineration plan for Philippines waste ‘disturbing’

Metro Vancouver ‘uniquely capable’ of safely disposing of waste coming back to Canada, say officials

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Channel your inner pirate in epic Canada-wide treasure hunt

200 treasure chests hidden among trails and waterways, lots of prizes to be claimed

Shovels could be in the ground on Trans Mountain by September, CEO says

Ian Anderson points to weeks likely required for NEB to reinstate 2016 regulatory record

Scorpion gives birth after hitching ride in B.C. woman’s luggage

A Vancouver woman inadvertently brought the animal home from a trip to Cuba

RCMP allows officers to grow beards

Members can now wear beards and goatees, as long as they’re neatly groomed

Most Read