Monday, February 9, 2015

Making Burros Fly

I stole this idea from the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch,
a place I'd never heard of until I saw one of their pictures shared on Facebook.

The picture showed a group of burros, happily licking a jolly ball smeared with peanut butter.
What a great idea, I thought. Must try. But first I had to find out more about this Black Beauty Ranch.
I remembered reading Cleveland Amory's weekly column in TV Guide growing up. 
What did he have to do with burros?

Everything, it turns out. In 1979, he organized an airlift of 577 burros from the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The burros were slated to be shot because of claims that they were destroying the flora in the canyon.
Amory and The Fund for Animals, an organization he founded in 1967, 
airlifted each burro in a sling out of the canyon. It took two years.
Amory wrote a book about it called "Making Burros Fly."

The Black Beauty Ranch was created to provide the burros with a permanent sanctuary. 
It has grown to 1,300 acres and is now home to more than 1,200 domestic and exotic animals, 
"many of whom have been rescued from near-death situations such as slaughterhouses, 
biomedical research labs, and trophy hunting ranches. Others are discards from circuses or roadside zoos 
or were former victims of the exotic pet trade...The ranch is not a zoo and is not open for regular public visitation.
Amory's vision was that it 'would be a place where animals are looked after, not looked at."

One of the burros airlifted from the Grand Canyon captured Amory's heart immediately –
she was friendly, and that became her name...Friendly.
She lived at the sanctuary 32 years, until her death in 2011.
Need a good cry? Here's a link to Remembering Friendly.

When Amory died in 1998, he was cremated. His ashes were spread around the ranch by Friendly,
from a canister that hung around her neck.

Me: Lucy, if you outlive me, and I'm sure you will, will you spread my ashes across this ranch?

Lucy: You bet. Give me peanut butter and I'll do anything.


  1. Great post. I cried *before* I clicked the link to Friendly's history...

  2. what a happy story to start my day...

  3. Your blog was an adventure this morning -- great post and photos.

  4. What a great story...two years, wow! Love this last photo. Gretta Girl and Bruce Wayne love peanut butter, too. I put it way up in a hollow bone.

  5. They all make me smile, but Lucy, ....there is something special about Lucy.....I love Lucy's face and all her expressions!!

  6. Great post, super link to friendly and the photos of your herd enjoying a peanut buttered hanging ball are adorable. THanks Linda for a super Monday morning beginnning

  7. Thanks for the info on the Black Beauty Ranch. I have several friends who would love to check out this site. And I agree with Lucy... (aside from dark chocolate) I too love peanut butter!

  8. I enjoyed reading the story. I am going to look up Black Beauty Ranch. I love these photos, what a great treat for the donkeys.. Happy Monday!

  9. Oh man, I love a good donkey love story! Heading off to read all about this now. Thanks for sharing this man's big-hearted history!

  10. I've enjoyed several of Amory's books, but "Ranch of Dreams" was my favourite. I found it on audio cassette at the local thrift store last year and that was when I first looked into Black Beauty Ranch. "Making Burros Fly" is on my list of books to look for at the library next visit. Thanks for jogging my memory re this wonderful man.
    Oh, and re the peanut butter jolly ball - I sometimes keep my dogs amused by hanging peanut butter covered kongs from tree branches. Maybe Smooch might like that?

  11. Because of the great link to "Friendly", I've order both Making Burros Fly and The story of Black Beauty Ranch.....thanks I can hardly wait to read these. xoxo Oma Linda

    1. My order of Making Burros Fly is on its way, too. Figured I'd order the story of the ranch if I had any tears left after reading the first book! How is it that donkey lovers like us never heard of this place before? A visit to one of the Black Beauty open houses is high on my bucket list.

  12. An American in Tokyo2/9/15, 10:48 PM

    I love the picture of Lucy licking the peanut butter ball!!

    I'll have to order Making Burros Fly and buy some extra boxes of tissues when I sit down to read it. ;)