KHS welcomes new Nightingale

  • Nightingales Charlie and Shizu get to know each other at Kona Historical Society's Kona Coffee Living History Farm. (Kona Historical Society/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Mele, Kona Historical Society’s young donkey, was killed in late April by an apparent stray bullet while grazing in her pasture. (Kona Historical Society/Special to West Hawaii Today)

KAILUA-KONA — The Kona Historical Society on Monday announced a new addition to its Kona Coffee Living History Farm in Captain Cook, a 9-month-old Nightingale by the name of Shizu.

The farm has several plans for the young donkey, not the least of which is to serve as a companion to its resident donkey, Charlie, who is nearing the age of 35 and has been a part of educational programs and tours at the farm for several years.

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Shizu will also eventually assume Charlie’s duties as part of educational programs for local students and historical representations of farming practices for visiting guests.

Her addition comes roughly six months after Mele, the first young Nightingale the farm procured to keep Charlie company and carry on his legacy, was lost in an unfortunate accident.

“We were so heartbroken when Charlie lost Mele last spring, and frankly, were not sure given his advanced age if he would live long enough to have another companion,” Joy Holland, executive director of the farm, wrote in a press release. “He was so bonded to Mele, so we weren’t sure how he would receive Shizu, but their initial meeting was heartwarming and brought a few tears.”

The tears of joy for Shizu’s arrival followed closely tears of sadness after Mele’s untimely departure.

Mele arrived at the farm in March after a two-year campaign to find Charlie a companion. The young donkey lived on the farm for only about one year before an errant bullet from a neighboring property struck her in the torso, ultimately leading to her death.

A resulting investigation made clear that a 74-year-old man, who was never named because he was never officially arrested, was shooting wild chickens on an adjacent property when he missed his target and inadvertently hit Mele.

It was the man who initially notified the Hawaii Police Department of the incident, Maj. Robert Wagner told West Hawaii Today in May. HPD eventually built a case that included recommendations of a felony charge of reckless endangering and a misdemeanor charge of criminal property damage.

Wagner said Tuesday the case was officially sent to the Hawaii County prosecutor’s office at the end of August, where legal professionals would decide if and how to charge the suspect.

A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office was unable to provide clarity as to the status of the case Tuesday. But based on the timeline Wagner laid out, it’s most likely that the prosecutor’s office has yet to complete the intake process for the case.

Shizu, which means quiet and clear, has been on the farm and acclimating for a week, the historical society press release said. Her arrival was courtesy of Yamagata Farms, a family farm in South Kona that also donated Mele. According to the historical society, the farm is in discussions about donating a second young donkey in the future.

After accepting the donation of Shizu in June, the Nightingale has spent the months since training at Mahealani Ranch with Kaohu Ha‘alilio, a senior at Konawaena High School and student vice president of the Hawaii High School Rodeo Association.

Thus far, Shizu has learned to lead, wear a harness and a pack-saddle, and has grown comfortable with being handled. Farm staff is now training her to haul coffee and farm goods.

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“In the early 20th century, donkeys were important members of Kona’s coffee pioneer families,” said Kona Historical Society Director of Interpretation Gavin Miculka. “These Kona Nightingales help bring our story to life and add an exciting new element to our interactive living history programs.”

The Kona Historical Society Farm Fest 2018 will be held at the farm in Captain Cook on Nov. 11. All are welcome, and it will be the first chance for the public to interact with Shizu in her new capacity.

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