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Newest Attraction at Magic Kingdom: Burro Adoptions

May 16, 1986|SHELDON ITO | Times Staff Writer

Disneyland has been giving away a car a day for the past 16 months to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Next month, they will also start giving away burros.

Have pack animals replaced Pontiacs in the Magic Kingdom's gate giveaway?

"No, it's something different," said Al Flores, a spokesman for the Anaheim theme park. "We're still giving away cars."

Five wild burros--four babies and one adult--captured in Death Valley will be delivered to Disneyland on Monday to become part of the new Big Thunder Ranch attraction, which will open June 28. Visitors to the attraction may see and pet the animals and, if they qualify, may adopt one, Flores said.

Disneyland is cooperating with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which runs a program offering wild horses and burros for adoption. The bureau has been rounding up the animals since 1973 to prevent overpopulation and the destruction of ecosystems of the West's rangelands.

"The animals are an ecological problem," said John Scull, a spokesman for the bureau's California Desert District. "There are several species of plants that are on our endangered species list that wouldn't be if it weren't for the burros."

More Than 2,100 Captured

This year alone, the bureau has captured more than 2,100 burros on the California desert. Scull said that there is no problem finding people who want burros and that virtually all of them have been adopted.

"Burros are marvelous little pets," Scull said. "They're relatively easy to gentle down, and they'll eat just about anything."

Disneyland visitors who want to adopt a burro will have to meet certain criteria, Scull said: They must live in an area zoned for farm animals, have adequate pasture and shelter for the burros, have no barbed wire around the pasture and pay a $75 fee.

Flores said Disneyland will throw in a certificate of adoption as a souvenir.

He said the park saw the adoption program as a way it could help the government and get animals for Big Thunder Ranch at the same time. After one group of burros is adopted, another will be delivered to keep the population between six and 12.

Big Thunder Ranch will be "a combination petting zoo/exhibit area/restaurant," Flores said. It will feature an 1880s-style ranch house that will serve as a museum, an area where children can pet farm animals and exhibitions of such ranch chores as harness making and horse grooming.

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