Cripple Creek Donkeys. What’s The Deal?
As business owners in Cripple Creek, we’re often asked about the donkeys.
- What’s Cripple Creek’s fascination with them?
- Are there really wild donkeys roaming the streets of Cripple Creek?
- Where are they?
- Aren’t donkeys and mules the same thing?
What’s Cripple Creek’s fascination with the donkeys? Cripple Creek’s rich mining history could not be told without the labor of these beasts of burden. During Cripple Creek’s gold rush of the late 1800’s, donkeys were “employed” to pull the ore carts out of the mines, or laden with camp and mining supplies for the arduous trek up the mountain. They were often referred to as “Rocky Mountain Canaries’ due to their work in the mines.
Fast forward to Cripple Creek today and we have a herd of thirteen donkeys roaming the streets of Cripple Creek. Some are said to be descendants of the donkeys that originally worked the mines.
The herd is cared for by the Two Mile High Club; a volunteer organization which raises money for their feed and veterinary care through Donkey Derby Days, an annual event held in June, and the Aspen Tours each September.
Are there really wild donkeys roaming the streets of Cripple Creek? Wild may be a bit of a stretch. As friendly as they are, they don’t seem to be, but that’s what I’ve heard, they are technically wild. The donkeys have never been ridden and are not “broke” for that purpose.
So no, you CAN NOT ride the donkeys. Sometimes there are events with donkeys that you can pay to ride, but those donkeys are not from the Cripple Creek donkey herd.
Are they friendly? Usually. They are not normally aggressive, but if provoked, they may kick out or bite. Treat them with respect and you shouldn’t have any issues. They are large animals with minds of their own and they generally do as they please.
Pictures? Yes, take all the pictures you want. Some of them will even “ham it up” for you. (See and share pictures on the Cripple Creek Donkeys Facebook page.)
Can I feed the donkeys? Yes, you can feed the donkeys, but please don’t feed them chips, sandwiches, ice cream, i.e. “people-food.” It can make a donkey very sick or even literally be the death of them. Be sure to place any trash in the donkey-proof trashcans, which are available all around the city. Donkeys will eat the trash, even if it’s not good for them. Again, it could even kill them, so please dispose of trash properly.
So what can you feed them? You can feed them carrots, apples and the like, along with special donkey treats, which you can pick up for a donation at local merchants and museums.
The donkeys really like to eat, so when you’re offering them a treat, place it flat on your palm and hold your palm out keeping your fingers flat and together, otherwise, they may take your fingers into their mouth too! A donkey bite can be painful!
Where can we find the donkeys? The donkeys are allowed free roam of the city, usually from mid-May through mid-October. They are penned up in the winter for their safety. During the spring, summer and fall, they are occasionally penned for medical treatment, weight management, and during certain city events. Most of the time, the donkeys can be found where the grazing is good, or if it’s hot and sunny, in the shade of a building or under someone’s porch; sometimes even in a parking garage! Of course, if it’s raining, they will seek shelter just like you would. The best spotters to ask would be the city shuttle/trolley drivers, since they drive around the city continuously. If the donkeys are around, they will usually know where they are. City of Cripple Creek Shuttle # 719-689-7711.
Aren’t donkeys and mules the same thing? Donkeys and mules are not the same thing. The main differences between mules versus donkeys: Mules are the result of breeding between a female horse and a male donkey. Mules are almost always sterile and cannot reproduce.
However, the term donkey and burro are interchangeable. Burro is the Spanish word for donkey. (When I first heard the word burrito, I thought that meant it contained donkey meat!)
Cripple Creek Colorado…where the asses run wild and the donkeys are well cared for!