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Donkey Model for 'Shrek' Turns 30 Amid Health Struggles

By    |   Friday, 14 June 2024 12:14 PM EDT

A gray miniature donkey named Perry from California, who inspired the Donkey character in the 2001 animated movie "Shrek," celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this week, and although his ailments mean racking up an exorbitant medical bill, Palo Alto community members have stepped in to help. And celebrate his birthday.

Perry has severe arthritis and equine Cushing's disease, and receives acupuncture for pain, Jenny Kiratli, lead handler for the animals, told The Washington Post. Perry lives with Buddy, 24, who has dental disease, and April, 15, who has diabetes and a chronic hoof ailment at the Cornelis Bol Park. As they age, their medical care costs have increased. Miniature donkeys can live up to 30-35 years.

"Last year, care for the donkeys cost $40,000, and we're expecting it will continue to rise," she said. "The donkeys are beloved by the community, so it's important to continue giving them the care they need."

About 30 volunteers care for Perry and other donkeys at the Barron Park Donkey Project, using $25,000 annually in public donations for food, grooming, and medical care. The Palo Alto City Council approved Mayor Greer Stone's proposal to match community donations up to $10,000 in a one-time grant. Residents are aiming to match this by June 23, with about $5,000 raised so far.

Perry has lived at the park since 1997 after his owner no longer wanted to raise donkeys. In 1999, he gained fame when Rex Grignon, a 3D animator from Palo Alto, brought a team to study him for the character Donkey in DreamWorks' "Shrek." Grignon's wife had noticed Perry during her walks through the Barron Park neighborhood.

"My partner [at work] was taking on the character of Shrek, and I was taking on the donkey," Grignon told the Post. "I needed some reference about how donkeys moved, and my wife mentioned the Barron Park donkeys."

Grignon took 25 animators to the park to observe and sketch Perry.

"We shot video of him moving around and did a lot of drawings — he was very cooperative as the handler walked him around," he recalled. "Although we'd already designed Donkey, we wanted to figure out what makes a donkey a donkey, so it was really helpful to watch Perry move."

Community members were happy when "Shrek" won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, taking joy in knowing Perry had played a small role.

"There's a certain way that Donkey walks in the movie — it's not really a prance but it's similar," she said. "That's how Perry walks, and it's unique — I've never seen another donkey do it."

In March, Grignon visited Perry and was delighted to spend time with the donkey again.

"He's a lovely little donkey in a lovely little place," he said. "He's just like I remember him from years ago."

Zoe Papadakis

Zoe Papadakis is a Newsmax writer based in South Africa with two decades of experience specializing in media and entertainment. She has been in the news industry as a reporter, writer and editor for newspapers, magazine and websites.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


TheWire
A gray miniature donkey named Perry from California, who inspired the Donkey character in the 2001 animated movie "Shrek," celebrated his 30th birthday earlier this week, and although his ailments mean racking up an exorbitant medical bill.
donkey, shrek, birthday
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2024-14-14
Friday, 14 June 2024 12:14 PM
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