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)

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)

Mammoths roam Shuswap donkey refuge

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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)

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)

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

Salmon Arm Mayor Alan Harrison is comfortable waiting his turn to be vaccinated for COVID-19, as per the B.C. government’s updated vaccination timeline released on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (File photo)
Province’s vaccine timeline a shot of hope for Salmon Arm mayor

Mayor Alan Harrison sees majority of residents taking precautions against COVID-19

Interior Health reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 and two new death in the region Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt/Juneau Empire)
79 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths reported in Interior Health

Both of Friday’s deaths were both recorded at long-term care homes

Adams Lake Kukpi7 (Chief) Cliff Arnouse (pictured), Neskonlith Kukpi7 Judy Wilson and Little Shuswap Lake Kukpi7 Oliver Arnouse released a joint notice regarding confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their respective communities. (File photo)
Secwepemc First Nation bands responding to COVID-19 cases in their communities

Adams Lake, Neskonlith and Little Shuswap Lake band chiefs release joint notice

The CSRD will be hosting online budget consultations and their board meetings will also be streamed online for the foreseeable future. (CSRD Image)
Columbia Shuswap Regional District budget and board meetings will be held online

A first draft of the budget is available on the regional district’s website

(Pixabay photo)
Black Press Weekly Roundup: Top headlines of the week

In case you missed it, here’s what made waves throughout the week

Sunnybank in Oliver. (Google Maps)
Sunnybank long-term care in Oliver reports third COVID-19 death

The facility currently has an outbreak with 35 cases attached to it

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Administrative headquarters for the Regional District of Central Okanagan in Kelowna. (File photo)
Tempers fly over a pricey picnic shelter in the North Westside

Lack of detail on $121,000 shelter expenditure further incites self-govenance wishes

Big White Village on Dec. 16. (Big White photo)
11 more COVID-19 cases linked to Big White cluster

Interior Health provided an update on the cluster on Friday

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kamloops’ Royal Inland Hospital surgical unit

Despite 6 South being a surgical unit, RIH said surgeries are continuing at the hospital

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘It’s incredibly upsetting’: Kelowna health care worker demands WestJet ticket refund

Kelowna woman has been waiting almost a year for a refund on her Kelowna to Edmonton flight

After a Vernon resident tried to domesticate a pair of gopher snakes, BC Conservation Service reminded that it is against the law to keep wild animals in one’s possession. (Yuval Levy/Unsplash)
Wild gopher snakes aren’t pets: Vernon conservation officer

After resident kept two gopher snakes in his home, conservation reminds it’s illegal to domesticate wildlife

Most Read