Pet donkey found ‘living best life’ with elk, five years after escape

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  • Author, Rachel Looker
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

A pet donkey who escaped from his owners five years ago in California has been found “living his best life” with a herd of wild elk.

Terrie and Dave Drewry, of Auburn, are convinced the animal, filmed by a hiker earlier in June, is their pet “Diesel.”

The couple say they are relieved the animal is safe – and have decided to let it roam free with a new family as a “wild burro”.

Diesel got scared and took off while hiking with Mr Drewry near Clear Lake, California, in 2019.

Weeks of volunteer searches proved fruitless, and a trail camera image a few months later was the last time he was seen.

“We finally kind of gave up,” Ms Drewry told the BBC’s news partner CBS. “Just no sign of him.”

Then hiker Max Fennell spotted the herd earlier this month, describing the donkey as “happy and healthy”, and posted his footage on social media.

“It was amazing. It was like, oh my God. Finally, we saw him. Finally, we know he’s okay. He’s living his best life. He’s happy. He’s healthy, and it was just a relief,” Ms Drewry said.

The elk herd is a few miles from where Diesel first went missing and in an area where there are no wild burros.

“Two completely different creatures, but they learn to get along and become each other’s family,” Ms Drewry said.

The Drewrys have adopted new donkeys since Diesel’s disappearance and have no plans to attempt to capture their missing animal.

“To catch him would be almost impossible,” Ms Drewry said. “He’s really a wild donkey now. He’s out there doing what he was raised to do.”

She said Diesel was about eight years old and donkeys could live up to 40 years.

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