Hero Donkey Keeps Asses Safe During Raging Wildfire

Ellie took charge when her ranch was evacuated.

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Hero Donkey Keeps Asses Safe During Raging Wildfire
Meet Ellie, the hero ass. (Photo: William A. Cotton)

As fires swept through Colorado last week, many people and animals were forced to evacuate. Among the evacuees were Mike and Sharon Guli, who board horses at their ranch in Paradise Park. Before the couple left, they put a five-year-old mammoth donkey named Ellie, four draft horses, and another donkey into an open pasture. They rushed to call Ellie’s owners, Greg and Michele Van Hare, to see if they could make it to the barn with a trailer for the animals, but by the time they reached town, all access to the area had been closed.

The Van Hares decided to “trust in God” and also prepare themselves for the loss of their animals.

But on Tuesday, sheriff’s deputies and volunteers found five of the six animals grouped together in the field exactly where they’d been left. When help arrived, according to team, “Ellie walked right up to one of the rescuers and put her head against his chest.”

The missing horse had wandered into a nearby field and was later rounded up by the team.

Ellie managed to keep the herd calm and collected during the blaze. None of this surprised her owner, Greg Van Hare, who noted both Ellie’s affection for people and her refusal to take crap from anyone of any species.

“Ellie doesn’t put up with crud,” said Van Hare, describing Ellie’s confrontation with a couple of stallions. “She put her ears back and started walking toward them. She got about 10 feet away and the stallions turned and left.” Ellie has also faced down a bull elk, a moose and a bear.

Mike Guli, who owns the boarding facility where Ellie lives, has also witnessed her calm, authoritative presence.

“Over the years, I’ve seen her do such amazing things. She pretty much takes care of the other donkey and horses. She’s in charge,” said Guli.

Ellie and the rest of the herd were later examined by a veterinarian. Ellie’s coat had been singed by the flames and the horses’ tails had curled in the heat, but otherwise the animals checked out fine.

Thanks to WUSA9 News.

Should Ellie receive an award for her bravery?


Jocelyn Heaney is an English instructor, animal activist and freelance writer for L.A. Review of Books and Warner Bros. Pictures, among others. Her favorite animals are great white sharks, horses and all cats. She is currently at work on a memoir. Email Jocelyn | @JocelynHeaney