“I’m The Lucky One.” Magazine Executive Leaves High-Profile Job To Rescue Donkeys.

Ron King donkey rescue

Life used to be pretty hectic for 51-year-old Ron King, but that was before the donkeys came into his life.

As a media executive for high-profile fashion magazines like InStyle, Essence, and Sunset, Ron was always on the go. Then a corporate restructuring left him out of a job with a hefty severance package, and he realized he needed to find a new focus in life.

Not long after leaving his job, Ron happened to read an article about donkeys being sold to slaughter around the world. Their hides contain collagen that is used in a traditional medicine called ejiao, so their population was declining. At the same time, Ron saw a TikTok video about a woman trying and failing to find a donkey sanctuary. The two stories combined in his head, and he realized what his new life purpose could be.

Ron reached out to his friend, Los Angeles-based art dealer and philanthropist Phil Selway, who had been trying to turn a 75-acre plot of land he owns in Hopeland, California, into an animal sanctuary. When those plans fell through, Phil decided to team up with Ron to open a rehabilitation center for donkeys.

“Maybe the universe was trying to tell me something,” Ron mused. “This place is gorgeous and just made for animals.”

Phil and Ron opened Oscar’s Place Adoption Center and Sanctuary, a nonprofit foundation that rescues donkeys from slaughter, nurses them back to health, and either finds them forever homes or provides a loving home for them for the rest of their lives.

Ron’s new, animal-filled lifestyle was the blessing he didn’t even know he needed!

“My mind was a snow globe, constantly being shaken,” he said. “I loved my career, traveling, going to fashion shows, but here is the first time I’ve felt serenity. And for the first time, I realized I desperately wanted it.”

Less than a year after opening the sanctuary, they have about 55 donkeys living on the property. Six of those animals are permanent residents, and more than 20 have already been adopted out. Ron said each donkey has a distinct personality and is just as affectionate as any dog. Plus, they’re great guard animals for livestock like goats, sheep, and cattle.

Oscar’s Place charges $1,000 to adopt a donkey or $1,800 for two. They won’t separate moms and babies or any two animals who are bonded to one another. Phil sometimes has to write a check to keep the sanctuary afloat in the meantime, but they expect to be entirely self-sufficient by 2022.

“I make a promise to the donkeys,” Ron said. “I promise them a good life, whether it’s with someone else or here with us. They’ve earned it.”

This has to be the best use of a “midlife crisis” that we’ve ever seen! Ron insists the donkeys aren’t the lucky ones; he is — and we have to agree!

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