Escaped pet donkey found 'living best life' with elk

A donkey in a herd of elk

A pet donkey that escaped his owners five years ago in California has been found "living his best life" with a herd of wild elk.

Terrie and Dave Drewry, of Auburn, are convinced the animal, filmed by a hiker earlier in June, is their pet "Diesel".

The couple say they are relieved the animal is safe - and have decided to let him wander free with a new family as a "wild burro" .

Diesel was spooked and took off during a hiking trip with Mr Drewry near Clear Lake, California in 2019.

Weeks of volunteer searches proved fruitless, and a trail camera image a few months later was the last time he was seen.

"We finally kind of gave up," Mrs Drewry told BBC's news partner, CBS. "Just no signs of him."

Then hiker Max Fennell spotted the herd earlier this month, describing the donkey as "happy and healthy", and posted his film on social media.

"It was amazing. It was like, oh my gosh. Finally, we saw him. Finally, we know he's good. He's living his best life. He's happy. He's healthy, and it was just a relief," Mrs Drewry said.

The elk herd is a few miles away from where Diesel first went missing and in an area where there are no wild donkeys.

"Two completely different creatures, but they learn to get along and be each other's family," Mrs Drewry said.

The Drewrys have adopted new donkeys since Diesel's disappearance and do not plan on trying to capture their missing pet.

"To catch him would be next to impossible," Mrs Drewry said. "He is truly a wild burro now. He's out there doing what he's raised to do."

She said Diesel is about eight years old and donkeys can live for up to 40 years.