FORT IRWIN, Calif. — After more than five months on the lam, Fort Irwin’s most famous Equidae has found a new home just before the start of the holiday season.
The wily jack burro, affectionately known as “Tripod,” wandered into the Fort Irwin landfill Nov. 22. Quick-thinking employees closed the gates to the landfill and contacted the Department of Public Works staff biologist, Liana Aker.
Aker has been closely following Tripod ever since the first reports of a burro with a badly broken leg surfaced in late spring.
Rumors abound about exactly how Tripod received his injuries. Many of the theories, most often expressed on social media, range from an accidental run-in with a moving vehicle, to heroically defending the local pet population from a pack of enraged coyotes.
Aker believes that his leg was broken during a fight with another burro, most likely over the affections of a “jenny,” or female, burro.
DPW, along with Fort Irwin Veterinary Services and the Bureau of Land Management, made several attempts to rescue Tripod over the summer, but the young burro, even with just three good legs, was able to outrun and out-maneuver his would be capturers.
Several attempts to subdue the resilient animal were also unsuccessful. Tranquilizer darts either missed their mark, or failed to penetrate the tough skin of the desert dweller. The one dart that did deploy correctly seemed to have almost no effect on him.
Tripod became somewhat of a local celebrity, with members of the community photographing and posting his every movement. His new-found fame was too much for the usually quiet burro. Finally, in order to avoid the “paparazzi,” he moved to Bicycle Lake in search of more privacy.
At Bike Lake, Tripod found new friends, a group of jennies with young foals who didn’t judge him for his disabilities. It was with this group that he wandered into the landfill.
When Aker arrived, she and a group of volunteers managed to put up a temporary corral around the elusive critter. After bringing in a horse trailer, they slowly reduced the size of his holding area, until finally he had nowhere to go except into the awaiting trailer.
From there, he was taken to an undisclosed location for a 28-day quarantine and debriefing by U.S. Army Counterintelligence, most likely about his alleged participation in the Siege of San José del Cabo in ‘48, according to Facebook lore.
After his forced seclusion, Tripod will retire and move to a farm in Colorado, to live out the rest of his days in relative comfort.