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Cripple Creek donkeys set loose for 2023 season

Posted at 6:59 AM, May 30, 2023

CRIPPLE CREEK — Every May, a herd of donkeys is set loose to roam the streets and grassy hills of Cripple Creek; it's a tradition that has its roots in the mining history of the area, stretching back more than a century.

The donkeys, heralded as the "Ambassadors of the Gold Camp," roam freely through town and the surrounding area during the warmer months and are cared for by the Two Mile High Club, a nonprofit dedicated to that specific task.

The club, founded in 1931, was initially organized to care for the herd of donkeys that were turned loose from nearby mines in the 1920s once mining practices began to modernize. According to Two Mile High Club, the freedom of the herd was also influenced by a request, or perhaps demand from Theodore Roosevelt.

Ever since then, the Two Mile High Club has been seeing to the veterinary care, farrier work, food needs, and shelter requirements for the herd which typically includes 15 to 20 donkeys at any given time; they also keep the herd in a pasture from October until May, when they are set loose to roam again.

The efforts of the nonprofit typically cost in the range of $30,000 which equates to about $2,000 per donkey each year.

Once the donkeys are loosed in May, the entire town (and visitors as well) join in the effort of looking after the donkeys; visitors and locals alike will take to watering and feeding their wandering, hooved neighbors apples, carrots, and bananas (as well as treats purchased from local museums or shops).

Learn more about the Two Mile High Club.