Unofficial “Mascot”: Arturo the Burro!


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The Kendal at Lexington campus is home to beautiful scenery, picturesque buildings and interesting people. Oh — and a donkey.

Yes, you read that right. While it’s actually more accurate to say that our campus is neighbors with a donkey, many residents have claimed him as “ours” all the same. They call him Arturo the Burro and, in the two years since he first appeared at Sunnyside Farm next door, he’s become somewhat of an unofficial mascot.

Nelson was the first to spot Arturo and gave him his name, choosing “Arturo” since it rhymed with “burro” — the Spanish word for donkey. “He hangs out with the herd, but cattle are not very sociable,” Nelson explains. “Arturo is there for security purposes.” By this, he means Arturo helps to protect the cattle from coyotes. According to livestock guardian expert Jan Dohner, donkeys are, “instinctively aggressive toward canines and capable of dishing out crushing blows with both their front and hind legs, as well as using their large teeth to bite raiding intruders.”

“Wildlife is unexpectedly abundant here,” says resident Nelson Potter. “I think it’s because of the nature of the setting. We’re just barely on the edge of the city and it turns to farmland at the entrance. We’ve got farmland on one side of the entrance and city houses on the other.”

However, while Arturo may be effectively aggressive when it comes to guarding against coyotes, Nelson says he couldn’t be gentler with people. Along with his wife, Nelson routinely brings carrots and apples to Arturo, who he says always takes the treat very gently and has never once tried to bite. “He even knows his name now,” Nelson says, proudly. “When we whistle and yell ‘Arturo,’ he comes right over to the fence.”

Nelson’s affection for Arturo is shared by resident Ted Burrowes, who regularly photographs Arturo. “I think he’s cute and an interesting addition to the peripheral Kendal community,” Ted says. He often captures pictures of Arturo when out for walks. “I’ll have my cell phone with me and I’m quicker than a lot of people to say, ‘that’s a photo op!’”

Even though Arturo belongs to Sunnyside Farm, it wasn’t too long ago that Kendal at Lexington’s campus was also part of the land he now roams. Isabel and Fred Bartenstein generously donated 85 acres and the Sunnyside Farm House to Kendal at Lexington in 1997. Recently, in November of 2016, the other nearly 500-acre Sunnyside Farm was placed under conservation easement with the Virginia Outdoors Foundation. The easement protects Sunnyside Farm from development in perpetuity.

Ideally, this means that Kendal residents will get to enjoy the rolling farmlands and views of Arturo and his herd for many years to come. According to Ted, it’s the novelty and low-pressure enjoyment that makes spotting Arturo such a fun pastime.

“You don’t drive down the road and normally see a donkey. It’s out of the ordinary. Plus, he’s ours, even if he isn’t,” Ted says. “All of the enjoyment and none of the responsibility — sort of like grandkids!”

Interested in seeing Arturo (and the rest of our community!) for yourself? Contact us about visiting Kendal at Lexington today.

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