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The Waikoloa Nightingale

Of the iconic animals we associate with Hawai`i — humpback whales, pueo, even the beloved gecko — the donkey most likely doesn’t make the list. And while they don’t walk comically upside down on our ceilings, majestically circle the skies, or leap playfully from the ocean, donkeys were integral to the success of Hawai`i Island’s coffee industry in its early days, and hold an important place in the state’s agricultural history.

Still spotted occasionally in the lava fields near Waikoloa Beach Resort and Waikoloa Village, the Waikoloa Nightingales — as they are called for the semi-melodious braying noise they make day and night, distinct from the typical honking of a donkey — are descendants of those working animals that helped coffee farmers get their product to market almost 200 years ago.

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