Buy one burro at full price, get the second for only $50.
It was a pre-Black Friday deal the Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department couldn’t pass up.
The department recently purchased a pair of wild burros at the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse and Burro Adoption to house at Los Flores Ranch Park. The purchase was a good deal for both the city and the burros.
“We thought it would be a neat attraction for people to get out of the big city of Santa Maria and see,” said Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada.
The mild-mannered yearlings will join a pair of pygmy goats and two chickens at the ranch. Norma and Grace, the two goats, and Sally and Kika, the chickens, already have welcomed the new-comers to the barn.
The burros got to move from the hot and arid Mojave Desert to a beautiful, oak-covered hillside just south of town.
Los Flores Ranch Park is the city’s newest and largest park. The city acquired the 1,774-acre property in the Solomon Hills three years ago to build its next landfill.
Right now the burros, which seem to be a matched set never too far apart, are confined to a cozy barn and corral next to the goat pen. Norma and Grace are adapting well to their new neighbors.
The burros will be slowly acclimated to their new surroundings, and eventually given more room to roam. Posada said when they told BLM representatives they wanted to buy two burros, there were two young males who never got too far apart even when they were penned or transported.
“The idea was to keep (the park) as much a ranch as possible,” Posada said, adding that the animals are a nice attraction for Santa Maria-area 4-H and Future Farmers of America groups.
Their acquisition was an odd mix of planning and fate.
Chris Janowicz of the Recreation Department was researching the best way to bringing a couple of burros to the ranch when the BLM adoption program just happened to schedule a visit to the area.
The BLM brought 10 wild burros from the Southern California desert and 20 wild mustangs gathered from the Twin Peaks Herd Management Area near Susanville to the event.
More than 38,000 wild burros and horses roam the southwest in the bureau’s management areas, according to the BLM.
Despite the big move, Posada said, the young burros should feel right at home at Los Flores Ranch Park. The oak woodland and chaparral features rabbits, ground and tree squirrels, wild pigs, deer, bobcats, a wide variety of birds, and cattle, which roam the ranch keeping the grass down.
PLAY — People for Leisure And Youth, a non-profit corporation that funds youth and recreation projects and programs in the city — has committed to paying for the burros’ care and feeding, Posada said.
The young burros, one of which has almost zebra-like markings on its lower legs, don’t yet have names. Posada said a few names have been suggested, but added the city would set up a contest to name them.
The park is open Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last entry of the day at 4 p.m., and provides a perfect place for nature walks, hiking, cycling and horseback riding.
“It’s like mental health time,” Posada said of the remote and secluded feel of the park. “You get out here and its just ‘Ahhhhh.’”