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Fans donate to the sick animal that was the model for Donkey in 'Shrek'

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When the first "Shrek" movie came out in 2001, we were introduced to a donkey named Donkey, voiced by Eddie Murphy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "SHREK")

EDDIE MURPHY: (As Donkey) Oh, this is going to be fun. We can see up late, swapping manly stories, and in the morning, I'm making waffles.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

And the movie Donkey was modeled on a real donkey named Perry.

JENNY KIRATLI: Perry is the donkey we've had the longest. We've had him since 1997.

MARTIN: That's Jenny Kiratli. She cares for Perry at the Barron Park Donkey Project in Palo Alto, Calif. Perry lives there with two other donkeys.

MARTÍNEZ: Perry is 30 years old. The average lifespan of a donkey is around 33, and as we all do, he's picked up a few health issues as he's grown older.

KIRATLI: He has increasing arthritis, so he doesn't always want to do his full walk, but he also doesn't like to be left behind if we try to take the two donkeys out without him.

MARTÍNEZ: Kiratli says Perry the donkey has had several medical emergencies, like one day this year.

KIRATLI: He stayed for six days in the ICU. He came back to us. The total cost was over $7,000. So the biggest challenges are meeting the costs of the increasing medical care.

MARTIN: So Kiratli is fundraising to cover those extra costs. She is hoping to raise at least $50,000 to cover this year's expenses. There is a lot of community support. Hundreds of people showed up at Perry's most recent birthday party, and the Palo Alto City Council offered to match up to $10,000 of donations.

KIRATLI: I think the story of the donkeys really touches people's heart. They're such wonderful animals, and if you could just come and spend a few minutes with a donkey, it will make you feel a lot calmer.

MARTÍNEZ: Donkeys are great. They always make me feel better when I think of them.

MARTIN: I'm so glad.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I'M A BELIEVER")

THE MONKEES: (Singing) Then I saw her face. Now I'm a believer - not a trace of doubt in my mind. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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