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Community Comes Together For Elderly Donkey Who Inspired Beloved “Shrek” Character

A two-photo collage. The first shows a close up of a donkey named Perry. The second image shows a close up of the animated Donkey from "Shrek."

If you ever visit Palo Alto in California, you may just run into a celebrity. But you’ll have to go to an unexpected location — Barron Park Donkeys. Here, you’ll find Perry. You may not recognize him, but you’ve most certainly seen him before… just not in the way you think. Perry was used as inspiration for the character of Donkey in the DreamWorks film Shrek. To ensure that the character looked and moved realistically, they wanted to use a real donkey as a model.

This is where Perry comes in. Earning only $75, his likeness has been cemented in film, guaranteed to be remembered for generations. He may not get the credit he deserves, but Perry is more than happy with his life in California. He and his fellow donkey friends, April and Buddy, are frequently visited by locals. In fact, visiting these adorable animals has been a local tradition long before Shrek was even an idea.

A man smiles as he stands near three donkeys outside.

“We have grandparents who remember playing with the donkeys as little kids [who are] bringing their grandchildren now, so this is not new,” Mike Holland, a volunteer handler says. “This is going back at least 70 years, 75 years, so it’s a neighborhood tradition.”

But in order to keep this neighborhood tradition alive, Perry and his friends need help. Now that Perry is getting into his 30s, his medical bills continue to increase.

View of a colorful poster right in front of a fenced-in area with a donkey eating nearby. Some of the poster reads: Mark your calendar... Happy 30th Birthday Perry! Barron Park Donkeys invites you to help celebrate the birthday boy! 

Three images of Perry are on the poster.

“They’re getting older, they’ve got what the vet refers to as old man problems,” Mike explains. “The increasing medical demands — it’s pushing up to $25,000 for the three of them, and $15k for the additional unexpected medical demands that they’ve all three of them have had. We’re at a critical junction.”

Thankfully, city officials recognize the worth in keeping this animal park going. To ensure they’re able to take care of the donkeys, they’re offering to match community donations of up to $10,000. So far, they’ve matched $4,000!

View of Perry the donkey walking, looking down.

According to Mayor Greer Stone, the decision to help was made because they believe it “is a small investment with a big return realized in the form of smiles on children’s faces, outdoor education opportunities, and increased wellbeing for our entire community.”

Perry, the Donkey Who Inspired the Iconic Character in Shrek, Feels Love From His Community

Close up of a mug. On it is an image of three donkeys, Perry included. text on the mug reads: Any day with donkeys is a good day

Between the fantastic merchandise and compost they offer, these donkeys are well on their way to getting the funds they need. In fact, you can even donate online. That said, they only have until June 23 to reach the city’s match offer! In any case, Mike is hopeful that they’ll be okay.

“I can’t imagine this not happening. I’m not the first person to volunteer here and, I certainly won’t be the last,” Mike says. “It’s a lot of fun and we have dozens of people come visit here every day. It’s a real tradition — funny neighborhood tradition that we’re keeping going.”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here!

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