Press Releases

For Immediate Release
April 30, 2018


The young donkey, Mele, who was the publicly-named and treasured companion for Kona Historical Society ‘s 31 year old donkey, “Charlie,” on its Kona Coffee Living History Farm site, was tragically killed in the late afternoon Saturday, April 28, 2018 in her pasture. The animal, who was an important part of the school programming, site programming, and a friend to the museum’s senior Kona Nightingale, Charlie, who had previously been on his own for many years, was hit by an apparent errant bullet from a neighboring agricultural property. The investigation of the incident is ongoing.

In March of 2017 Kona Historical Society conducted a three-week-long voting contest on its website and at its Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook to name Mele after a nearly two-year-long campaign to find, train, and integrate a baby donkey into the farm to provide companionship for its elderly gentleman, Charlie, and to provide engaging visits for school children. The campaign received wide press coverage and community support from all over Hawaii and beyond— and Kona Historical Society supporters and animal lovers helped provide volunteer time, financial resources, and emotional support for the lengthy project, which included months long training with a horse-trainer, pasture expansion, program development, and care of the animal, which started in 2015.

Charlie was not harmed and is in good condition and is presently being monitored closely by staff for his health.  “Our primary concern in the aftermath of this horrible incident is the health of Charlie and our animals, and the well-being, and direct communication we offer our staff, patrons, and supporters who were all so invested in this sweet little girl and the endearing story that unfolded between Charlie and her,” said Joy Holland, Executive Director of Kona Historical Society, adding “we are just utterly devastated right now and can’t yet think of what comes next, but we know how much energy our members and supporters put toward Mele and we did not want to delay sharing this news.”

“Mele was a beloved member of our museum ohana and she will be deeply missed by our staff, volunteers, visitors, and friends,” said Kona Coffee Living History Farm site manager and Kona Historical Director of Interpretation Gavin Miculka, “To celebrate the role she played in our living history and museum programs, the Kona Coffee Living History Farm will be hosting a free public day soon to honor her,” he added.

“We appreciate the community’s support and want to keep them informed as we find Charlie’s new companion when that seems appropriate,” said Buddy Norwood, Kona Historical Society’s President of the Board of Directors. “We will keep serving this community and caring for Charlie and our Kona Coffee Living History site, and we value the community’s visits and support as part of that.”

Kona Historical Society is a community-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and Smithsonian Museum affiliate that has spent the past four decades collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Kona districts and their rich cultural heritage within Hawaii.