Don Seaman's wife has always wanted a burro.

The desire for at least one of the cute, small donkeys is what brought him to the Santa Maria Elks/Unocal Event Center on Saturday morning during the Bureau of Land Management's Wild Horse and Burro Program Adoption.

Ten wild burros from Southern California deserts and 20 wild mustangs - gathered from Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville - arrived Friday on the first day of the two-day adoption event.

Most of the wild animals milled around the pens Saturday, likely still becoming accustomed to life fenced-in as opposed to life in the endless outdoors.

Seaman, who works in Santa Maria and lives in Santa Margarita, hand-picked two brown burros, a boy and a girl.

"We have llamas, ostriches, emus ... My wife loves pets," Seaman said. "So do I. They went to all the trouble to round them up and get them here.

"I wish I was a rich man. I'd adopt them all. They're adorable."

More than just a pretty face, burros can also help guard flocks of sheep or goats.

At the end of two days, eight burros and three mustangs found homes on the Central Coast, while the rest returned to permanent adoption facilities.

Jeff Fontana, a program spokesman, said the federal government is required by law to protect the wild mustangs and burros and to make sure the range can support grazing.

When the populations become too large, burros and horses are rounded up - a controversial program - and put up for adoption, which requires filling out paperwork and paying $125 for each animal.

More than 38,000 wild burros and horses roam in the bureau's managed areas, and wild mustang herds grow by 20 percent each year, Fontana said.

"The range can't support an unlimited number of horses," he added.

Lois Foreman of Arroyo Grande had her eye on a gray mustang to be a companion for her other horse.

"We were thinking about getting the burros but ... they're not really good around dogs," Foreman said, adding that she was afraid the strong animals would kick her three cocker spaniels.

"I think she's really pretty," Foreman said of the mustang. "I'm going to try and train her."

Lonie Prebyl of Lompoc picked up her 4-year-old mustang Saturday after hearing about the adoption event on the radio.

She plans to train and ride the horse.

Anyone still interested in adopting a wild burro or horse can visit the Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro facility - the nearest adoption facility - or call (800) 951-8720.

 

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