A new amigo for Poco


Until last year, the two resident donkeys at Berry Springs Park were Poco and J.J., a dynamic duo and fast friends. They had their scuffles at first, but after a short time, a strong bond developed between them. So when J.J. died unexpectedly last February, Poco was devastated.

Susan Blackledge, Berry Springs park manager, says, “He was all by himself, and each time I passed him during the day he cried and brayed. Every night I’d come out and give him carrots and a big hug, and he would cry and cry.” He was so lonely. Though it took some time to put the plan into action, Susan found a new companion for Poco. Enter Amigo—and just as his name suggests, he soon became Poco’s new best friend.

Amigo was born on the same farm as Poco and very likely has the same mother. When Susan contacted Stanley—a neighbor on a nearby farm, friend of the park, and donkey owner—he told Susan that the park could have the little donkey, who was just under a year old, but that Susan would have to “learn him.” Amigo hadn’t had much interaction with people on the thirty-five-acre farm, where he roamed freely with five other donkeys, two horses, two dogs, and numerous cats. He hadn’t yet been given a name, and he had never seen a carrot before! As the runt of his little herd, he always found the treats long gone before he got to them.

Susan told Stanley that she could train the donkey, and she soon found herself out on the farm, standing in the middle of a hay bale circle, passing out carrots and range cubes to the horses and donkeys as they walked up. Amigo hesitated at first and was usually the last to partake, but Susan’s diligence paid off. Amigo learned to love treats and to trust Susan.

After some routine vet work, the young donkey was pronounced ready to move to his new home at Berry Springs Park— for donkeys, a move that many patrons tell Susan is like winning a lottery jackpot.

He arrived in mid-March, walked straight out of the trailer into the fenced pasture, and made himself at home. Poco had been enclosed in a stall, to give Amigo time to look around, but Susan says she could tell he was quite curious about the new arrival and anxious to make a closer inspection. As soon as Susan released him, he trotted up to Amigo and sniffed. Amigo sniffed back. When Poco got a little too close for comfort, Amigo gave a quick kick—something he’d learned while fending for himself on a farm with so many animals. Poco didn’t seem fazed by the mild warning, though, and the two began walking around together. They got along from that moment on. “Poco was so happy to have a buddy again,” Susan says. A new donkey duo was in the making!

But the little donkey still didn’t have a name. So the Williamson County Parks and Recreation staff held a contest, and out of over 250 names entered, “Amigo” was chosen—a perfect fit for the young donkey’s friendly disposition.

November in Texas is a great time for a walk at Berry Springs and a visit with Poco and Amigo. They’re always ready to say hello, and they welcome carrot treats. But, Susan cautions, “Only two carrots per donkey, please. Otherwise, I’ll have to put them on a donkey diet.” Along with carrots and pats, there’s another way to nurture these long-eared pasture pals. Berry Springs Park sells firewood, with donations going toward the donkeys’ care. So as the temperatures drop, or when it’s time for a barbecue, consider buying wood from Poco and Amigo. The donkey duo will appreciate your help.

For park information, go to parks.wilco.org.

To contact Susan Blackledge, call 512 930-0040 or email her at sblackledge@wilco.org.

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