A hapless donkey ended up underground Thursday just north of Moreno Valley, stuck in a sinkhole until a construction crew dug a path to freedom.
The wild burro was located shortly after 9 a.m. in the area of Pigeon Pass and High Grove Pass roads, east of Box Springs Mountain Reserve, in an area known as Reche Canyon, according to the Riverside County Department of Animal Services.
Agency spokesman John Welsh said that passersby spotted the donkey in a hole into which he'd apparently fallen.
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Video images captured by onlookers indicated the animal was standing upright, able to maneuver back and forth inside the trench, but did not have adequate space to exit the hole, with only his head and neck protruding.
Welsh posted a link to the video here.
It's believed the animal may have been grazing along the roadside and walked onto a spot where the soil had been compromised from heavy rains Wednesday, causing him to fall into the crevice, according to Welsh.
Welsh said a crew from Temecula-based Inland Erosion Control Inc. was working at a nearby housing development and went over to see what was happening, reaching the scene before animal control officers arrived.
The six-man crew offered to assist the officers with extracting the Jack, bringing over a backhoe with a loader bucket and lift.
Welsh said that they proceeded to widen the hole and smooth out a makeshift exit ramp with the loose soil. When everyone backed away from the hole, the burro trotted out and went back into the open canyon.
The animal did not appear injured.
Herds of wild burros have roamed Reche Canyon and the immediate surroundings for decades. The county has an ordinance barring people from feeding or otherwise drawing the donkeys into populated areas, where they can be hit by cars and create other hazards.