There are two good ways to adopt a donkey: from an organization that rescues unwanted donkeys or from the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Program. Burro is Spanish for donkey; donkeys and burros are the same thing.
The BLM says that as of February 29, 2012, there were 5,841 wild burros living on BLM-managed rangelands in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Utah. (There are 3,194 in wild donkeys in Arizona alone). They say that’s way too many for the range to support, so the BLM captures hundreds of wild burros each year. There are also many burros in BLM holding pens in other states. All of them need good homes.
Wild burros are about 44 inches tall measured at their withers (that’s the point where their necks join their shoulders), and they weigh about 500 pounds. Although they’re wild animals, most wild burros tame remarkably easily, especially if their trainer already knows something about horses and donkeys. To adopt burros from the BLM you must:
- Be at least 18 years of age. If you aren’t old enough, your parents or guardian can adopt burros for you to take care of.
- Have no prior conviction for inhumane treatment of animals or for violations of the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act.
- Demonstrate that you have adequate feed, water and facilities to provide humane care for the number of burros requested.
- Show that you can provide a good home in the United States. You must provide at least 400 square feet (20 feet by 20 feet) for each burro adopted.
Burros need an enclosure at least 4½ feet high and strongly built using poles, pipes or planks of a minimum 1½ inch thickness and without dangerous protrusions. Barbed wire, large-mesh woven wire and electric fences can’t be used. Small-mesh woven wire fencing is acceptable with the addition of at least two boards the donkey can plainly see: one on the top and one halfway down the fence.
The burro you adopt will need a shelter. It has to be at least a two-sided structure with a roof and be well-drained, adequately ventilated and accessible to the burro at all times. Tarps can’t be used as a roof or sides.
You’ll have to file an application to adopt wild burros. Download one at the National Wild Horse and Burro Program website. You may adopt four wild burros in a 12-month period, sometimes more if you can prove you have the right accommodations to support them. The minimum cost to adopt a burro is $125, or $250 for a jenny with her suckling foal. In some cases, adoption centers and adoption events use competitive bidding to establish the adoption fee, but these still average about $125 per burro.
The BLM vaccinates, deworms and freeze brands all of the wild burros it offers for adoption and provides adopters with a record of each adopted animal’s medical history, including a negative Coggins test.
You can choose burros at holding centers or at adoption events held throughout the United States.
To add a wild burro or two or more to your hobby farm family, visit the National Wild Horse and Burro Program website or call 866-4MUSTANGS for more information.