Forever Homes for Holy Land Donkeys

I recently read a book where the main character, Patrick, who ran a donkey sanctuary, had to ask a vet to give a suffering donkey a lethal injection. Afterward, the donkey’s bonded buddy was overcome with grief. He had grazed alongside his friend and they’d often touched noses. They were happiest when together. Now his buddy lay lifeless on the ground. The grieving donkey gripped the dead donkey’s collar and tried to pick it up. He wanted to bring his dear friend back to life. Patrick was moved to tears, witnessing this, and never forgot the incident.

Susy Floru coauthored Patrick Barrett’s book. “Sanctuary: The True Story of an Irish Village, a Man Who Lost His Way, and the Rescue Donkeys That Led Him Home,” is worth checking out.

It inspired me to contact the founder, Angela Langoski, of Wisconsin’s Holy Land Donkey Haven located in Mt. Cavalry, which takes in unwanted, abused, and neglected donkeys. During the interview, both Angela and I choked up as she told a story about Simba, a donkey who’d lost everything.

Simba belonged to an older couple. After Simba’s bonded friend died, he stopped eating and drinking. Concerned, the couple asked Holy Land to take him so he could be with other donkeys. Angela had twenty-some donkeys of various sizes and ages who welcomed him, but Simba was still depressed.

A devoted vet spent the weekend with Simba and gave him an IV, but Simba still died. When the crematorium truck came and men carried the body to the trailer, all twenty donkeys started braying. The continuous sounds of grief touched Angela and all who were there. The donkeys kept braying and watching until the trailer pulled away and was lost to sight. Angela will never forget the sound of those grieving donkeys.

Angela explained that the group of donkeys hadn’t been around Simba long, but they still felt his loss. Donkeys form strong bonds with humans too. Angela now realizes it was a mistake to take Simba from the older couple. He not only lost his bonded friend, but his home as well. He died of a broken heart.

Angela told a story of another grieving donkey who lost its dear friend. It lay alongside the cold body all night long. 

I witnessed something similar when my horse, Candy, died. The truck wasn’t able to come right away, so Bev Gaedke, the horse ranch owner where I boarded Candy, covered the body with a tarp. Her dog, Blue, who had been Candy’s buddy, spent the night curled up alongside Candy’s body. Bev had to tie Blue up so the workers could take Candy. This was twenty years ago, but I’ve never forgotten the dog’s devotion and love for his buddy.

Angela shared that donkeys have distinct personalities. She told a funny story about Gabrielle, a donkey “princess,” who was often accompanied by her half-brother Kringle. Kringle enjoyed looking out for her. The princess didn’t like to step in mud puddles. Once, when she couldn’t figure out a way to avoid one that was in a narrow passageway, Kringle retraced his steps to come alongside and help her. “Follow me,” he seemed to say, and promptly led her down a winding path so she wouldn’t get her hooves muddy.

Consider a visit to the Holy Land Donkey Haven. Angela is running the sanctuary to help donkeys, not to make money, but donations are appreciated. How about a Christmas gift where the recipient gets to help sponsor a donkey? The haven also appreciates volunteers. Angela’s greatest wish is that her donkeys can be adopted and find forever homes where they’ll get the attention they crave. Check out her website at or text or call, (920) 915-2873, or email at

Angela’s stories, as well as the book “Sanctuary,” have strengthened my belief that animals are amazingly intelligent and capable of deep feelings. They’ve filled my head and heart with unforgettable stories and hope that these donkeys can happily live out their lives.

4 Replies to “Forever Homes for Holy Land Donkeys”

Thanks for this article on animal bonding and pointing out to us humans of the depth of emotions donkeys have.

Hi Sandi,
I’ve always been fascinated with the intelligence and emotions of animals, and I was happy to give a nod to this great organization. Thanks for your comment.

Awfully sad. I’m glad you finished the article with the story about Princess! LOL.

Hi Gayle,
Yes, I’d like to meet Princess and Kringle some day. If I’m ever near Mt. Cavalry, I plan to look them up. 🙂

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