Farewell to Dudley

We recently lost our dear Children’s Farmyard donkey, Dudley. A Miniature Sicilian Donkey, Dudley was 36 years old – long-lived for this breed. He spent 28 of those years at the Farm, and was a fixture in the Children’s Farmyard. He died of natural causes in his pasture, near his mate of so many years, Penelope.

Life and death are an integral part of the cycle of farming, but Dudley will always hold a special place in our hearts. Over the years, he brought joy to thousands of visitors, and to all who cared for him.

Here’s a look back at Dudley through the years.

Dudley arrived at the Farm as the Children’s Farmyard opened in 1991, a gift from Bob and Marcia Nappi, longtime supporters of the Farm’s education programs. The Nappis were catalysts for the new “Children’s Farmyard,” which was a cornerstone of the nonprofit’s budding educational experiences for visitors and families. The Children’s Farmyard helped transform Shelburne Farms from a private estate to a place that welcomed the public. Dudley was there to welcome them.

Upon hearing about his recent loss, Marcia wrote, “Dudley was born on our farm , a fluffy tiny donkey. As he grew we felt he was special. He and Penelope went to retire at Shelburne Farms and there he lived a life of abundance ; through the years we would say to our children, grands and great grands “Let’s go see Dudley!” and when bringing friends to Shelburne Farms we always visited with Dudley. Our hearts are full of gratitude to the Farm for their dedication to making the world a better place, even for little donkeys.”

Children’s Farmyard educator Susie Marchand with Dudley, c. 1993.

Dudley patiently helped introduce so many children to farm animals and agriculture.  At left: a camper tends to Dudley in 1993; At right: a camper helps feed Dudley and Penelope in 2017!

In 2013, we celebrated Dudley’s 30th birthday at the Green Mountain Draft Horse Field Days at the Farm. The Nappis were there to celebrate with him!

It’s actually hard to find a photo of Dudley without Penelope also in the frame. Penny is a female Miniature Sicilian Donkey (known as a “jenny”), and she and Dudley had three foals at the Farm over the years. 

Penny (above) remains with us at the Farmyard, but she is not all alone, as this recent photo shows. Four farmyard sheep that spent time with the donkeys last winter are now in Penny’s pasture, so Penny is comfortable. We will keep a close watch on her with the huge change in her life, but for now she is grazing with the sheep flock.

Dudley was an important part of many people’s visits to the Farm. If you have a special memory of Dudley, we invite you to share it with us in the comments below.

Posted by Holly Brough

November 7, 2019


Dudley was always a destination of our family when we would visit the farm over the years. Thank you Dudley for sharing your charm and always providing us with a smile on our faces during our visits with you The Leenig Fallon Family
Oh noooooo! Dudley was special. Al and I will miss him.
My visits to the farm have always included a stop to greet Dudley and Penelope. I was always certain to introduce out-of-town friends to the pair - many of whom speak of the duo to this day. I am so saddened to hear that Dudley won’t be there to greet me next time I visit. I will always be grateful for the time we shared together. Thank you Shelburne Farms for the love you show these sweet creatures.
It was always a highlight to go visit Dudley and Penny in our visits to the farm. Their calm and easy going nature was always nice to see. While it is sad, it is also important to know that he had a great life at Shelburne Farms. A life that many animals couldn’t even imagine.
Visting Dudley and Penny was always one of our first places to visit at the Farm. We would rush over to visit them and watch them in their pasture. The sounds they made always had my son laughing and if we heard them at any point during out visit, he thought they were asking for him to visit. We will miss Dudley greatly. and are so saddened by the news. What a wonderful life he had and thank you for taking such good care of all the animals at the Farm.
I have fond memories of taking care of Dudley as part of the Farmyard Crew a while back. He was smart, snarky and always up for a good brush. I was lucky enough to be on the farm when one of his foals, Strawberry Sunshine was born. I'm sad he is gone, but what a wonderful life he had on the farm.
I will miss this gentle soul.

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