Donations flood in to help model donkey behind 'Donkey' in Shrek movie

This Palo Alto pasture is home to an aging celebrity. If you look closely, you might recognize him. Perry was the model for "Donkey" in the movie Shrek.

"It actually is pretty amazing how much of this donkey they got into that character," says Jenny Kiratli, lead handler of the Barron Park Donkey Project.

But as Perry grows older, his list of ailments also grows. In fact, he and his friends Buddy and April, are racking up medical bills.

"It's just expensive to keep them up even if they're healthy, and so we're dealing with these ailments and getting them treated," says volunteer Tim Biglow.

That responsibility falls to the community. The Barron Park Donkeys are cared for by a team of 30 volunteers. And they just caught a lucky break thanks to the Palo Alto City Council.

"Whatever money we raised, up to $10,000, they would match," says Kiratli

So the fundraising began in earnest. And that's when another lucky thing happened. Perry had his big 30th Birthday Bash, which drew national attention.

"Money started coming in from all over the country: at least 15 states, at least five countries," says Kiratli.

The volunteers couldn't believe it. When the matching period ended, they had far exceeded their goal: raising more than $27,000. With the city funds added, they'll top $37,000.

"And the outpouring... I'm going to get choked up again just hearing all these angels coming out of nowhere," says Biglow.

Many of them wrote notes about how much the donkeys meant to them.

"We feel very fortunate. It's much more than just animals. It's the connection," says Carolyn Biglow, also a volunteer.

There have been donkeys here since the 1950s. Perry, Buddy and April are just the latest. They greet dozens of families each day and are unofficial city mascots.

"It's something that everyone in Palo Alto is pretty proud of, I think, that they're here and that we can come see them," says Ann Lemmenes of Palo Alto, who was visiting the donkeys Monday.

"I think it's amazing when a community can come together and give these guys a good rescued life to live out their days and be comfortable and loved. I think it's amazing," says another visitor, Shana Filipek who brought her daughter.

The matching period ended on June 23, but there are still some donkey donations trickling in. Volunteers expect the money raised should cover the cost of care for the whole year.