Please Do Not Feed the Donkeys

donkey coral bay overlook

In the past couple of weeks, I have heard about two donkeys getting hit by vehicles here on island. I do not know whether the donkeys were standing in the middle of the road, whether speed was a factor or what other condition may have caused this to happen, but I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone not to feed the donkeys and why.

Like many of you, I absolutely adore the donkeys. When I see them, I want to stop the Jeep, get out and hug them. But clearly, I do not. 🙂 If the donkeys are safe on the side of the road, at the Coral Bay overlook, for example, sure I will stop and take some pics. But if they are hanging on Centerline, for example, I simple slow down and pass by. Why? Because I don’t want to encourage them to stand in the roadway and risk getting injured.

I wrote a story back in 2017 about why we should not feed the donkeys. (Someone actually sent me a pic of a donkey eating a lollipop last year, and needless to say, it didn’t make me smile.) At that time, this is what the National Park told me about what could happen when we feed them:

“It causes them to be aggressive and bite. It is very bad for them to eat common people food. It trains them to stay close to the road looking for handouts. When close to the road, they are at risk of being injured or killed! If hit by a small car, could cause serious injuries to passengers and particularly small children.”

The donkeys are perfectly happy grazing on grass or eating leaves. And while the island is still a tad dry, there is definitely plenty for them to eat.

In the meantime, for all of you donkey lovers out there, please enjoy this video that was taken on Cruz Bay beach last week. Looks like they were checking out the status of Wharfside too…

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

8 thoughts on “Please Do Not Feed the Donkeys”

  1. Thank you x a million for writing this! I hope we can continue to educate as many as possible so no more donkeys are injured or killed. I just love them and they bring so much joy! Let’s all love them from a distance! Have a great day Jenn and thanks again for all you do to keep us informed and keep our beloved STJ as beautiful and special as ever.

  2. Sad to hear about another donkey hit. In fairness, I think there is an additional reason the donkeys are in the road. On several occasions we have seen them in the middle of the road by the dumpsters. One time, just around the bend in the road on Centerline, ascending out of Coral Bay, several full household trash bags had fallen out of the over flowing dumpster that sits right at the road side. There were 8 or so donkeys ripping the bags open in the middle of the road oblivious to traffic. If someone were speeding around that bend it would not have ended well. I wonder if it would be possible to request the powers that be to tuck the dumpsters away from the road’s edge as best as possible. I know they are doing their best but it might help a little.

  3. Do you know what happened to the ones that were hit? When we were there last month we saw one who looked like she was going to have a baby any day. Have you seen any newborn donkeys?

  4. Question: Is it okay to feed them indirectly? For example, can I leave some lettuce or apples on the side of the road or an area where I know they will be at some point? I would never give them anything but fruits or veggies.

    • A few years back, the NPS ranger guiding our Reef Bay hike told us they regularly cull (kill) problem donkeys that become aggressive. Understandably, this horrified some of the participants.

      I grew up around horses. My parents had a horse farm. They treated our horses better than most people treat their dogs so whenever I read about the STJ donkeys, my thoughts run to horses.

      While I don’t know that it would hurt a donkey, lettuce would have very little nutritional value. Apples would probably be a treat but do contain (natural) sugar so a regular diet of them wouldn’t be great. My parents’ horses would occasionally get apples and carrots as a treat.

      Speaking of another reason not to feed the donkeys – a donkey bite would be extremely painful. I had small anxiety attacks whenever I saw little kids pawing the donkeys at Caneel. A well placed bite or kick would ruin a vacation.

      In PA where I live, deer are a constant menace and the roads are littered with carcasses. A small doe can total a car so I would imagine a donkey would do so as well.

  5. Remember the old fable about Androcles and the Lion?

    Well, one day a visitor to the island saw a donkey caught in a fence. He was a Christian preacher from the mid-west. He stopped his rental vehicle. He freed the wild animal from the fencing. When he went to pat the donkey on the head, it bit his hand-off.

  6. Should we add, “do not give the Donkey’s water directly” too? I’ve seen posts about the donkeys going thirsty when there’s a lack of rainfall. And I believe the request from locals is to help keep some specified buckets around island located in safe places full of water. But I’ve seen pics on the various STJ Facebook pages where people will pull over and water the donkeys out of their left over ice water from their coolers.

    When I first saw that, I thought that was really nice of the people, but that seems like it would create the same problematic dynamic as feeding them where the donkeys get accustomed to approaching cars.

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