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Northern California's former media executive establishes a sanctuary for donkeys

Many people had to reevaluate what they did professionally after the pandemic. One such person was a former media executive who left his highly-paid job to be surrounded by donkeys. 

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Northern California's former media executive establishes a sanctuary for donkeys

Ron King founded a non-profit on a ranch of 75 acres dedicated to rehabilitation and rescue of donkeys in Northern California.

He told CBS News that his favorite part of the day was his donkey hug.

This is a far cry of his pre-pandemic lifestyle: dressed in Gucci, he shuttled between New York City and Los Angeles as senior vice president at Time Inc. He was responsible for marketing and sales for several well-known brands.

He stated that he felt he had "made it" after he flew first class to Milan to be in the front row of a Versace fashion show.

King was eventually fired in 2018 when Time Inc. sold. After that, he freelanced, but when COVID-19 was released, King lost his job and despair set in.

An old friend, Phil Selway, a prominent pop art dealer, called King. He wanted King to move to his ranch to sell it as it was not being used.

It would be a win-win situation, I thought. Selway stated that he could greatly help me and it would also help him.

King accepted the job and found a new sense for calm on the property.

"My head is constantly shaking like a snow globe." It doesn't stop. This feeling of chaos in my head was normal for me. King stated that when the snow globe stops after 20 year, you feel it.

Serendipity met serenity. King found a story about donkeys. Donkeys are known for being strong pack animals that can haul goods. Donkeys can live up to 30 years. After that, they are sold off, killed and skinned so their hides can be used in traditional Chinese medicine.

They don't have advocates, they don’t win races and they don’t feed a food chain. King replied, "I thought I should help donkeys." "So I said to King, "Phil, I have an idea that I want to run with you. "I want you to remove it from the market, not let it sell, and let me make this into a sanctuary for donkeys."

Selway stated, "The first thing that I thought when Ron gave his presentation was that it was crazy" It's completely blown me away, and I couldn't be happier.

Donations are a great way to support them. All 97 donkeys on the ranch would have been killed.

King spoke out about one of the donkeys who lived at the ranch. King stated that Patches was starving and no one had given him food for over a week. The only way to make a donkey who has been emotionally abused happy again is to love him back to health.

King might be healing his own invisible wounds by helping donkeys to heal. King's struggle began early in his life, as he discovered he was gay, despite being the son and preacher of the Southern Baptist church.

"They were young, they were religious, and they had a little boy sissy, so that didn’t work out. King said that all he wanted was to matter.

King, in his 20s was homeless and dependent on drugs and alcohol. King was able to get sober after he overdosed.

King understands the power of resilience and says he helps rebuild trust and strength in donkeys so that they are ready for adoption. He's already found homes for 30 donkeys.

"For a long period, I was motivated by the idea of being somebody or something. This part is gone. But I want to matter to the world, donkeys and people," King stated.

Amber Paz adopted two donkeys from her father.

Paz stated, "This is my dream come to life." They are so precious.

It was love at first sight for Paz.

"She laid right next to me and I said, 'You're mine. She said that she didn't know much about it, but that anyone could learn if they wanted.

It's hard to deny the closeness that donkeys have with humans.

"I was quite accomplished by all of those standards. King stated that he found himself with the rug out of under him. King said, "And that level of despair, being so close, so recently, is really a valuable lesson in resilience, as well as turnaround."

"There is light at both ends of the tunnel. It's not always freight trains. He said that sometimes it's donkeys."


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