TORONTO -- If you needed further proof that we are living in unprecedented times, an Ontario animal sanctuary is now offering up its donkey as a special guest for video conference calls.

“We’ve been scratching our heads trying to figure out how we’re going to make money in this pandemic,” said Tim Fors, a volunteer with Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, a non-profit shelter in Uxbridge. “We saw an animal sanctuary in California was offering their donkey for Zoom calls and thought we’d do the same.”

Farmhouse Garden was launched four years ago by a cattle farmer who didn’t want to send any more of his animals to slaughter. The property now cares for over 20 cows, several chickens, a horse and Buckwheat the donkey, who’s now carrying more than her fair share of the economic load through her online appearances. It costs $40,000 annually to keep all of the sanctuary’s animals fed.

“Buckwheat’s been a savior,” Fors told CTV News Toronto. “Normally we have public visitations, which are really popular. Sometimes we get 200 people buying baked goods and merchandise. With COVID we’ve really been struggling.”

The struggle now is juggling Buckwheat’s schedule. Fame is a demanding beast. While Buckwheat doesn’t need an agent quite yet, the on-demand donkey service has been a roaring success, with several video conferences a day being scheduled for clients around the world.

“It’s been a huge hit,” said Fors. “Buckwheat has appeared in corporate business meetings. We’ve had her do appearances with schools, doctors and nurses. People just love to see her face show up in a meeting. This is really helping us make up the financial shortfall and keep our animals healthy and well fed. Buckwheat was the perfect candidate. She’s so approachable, she’s so friendly. She’s calm. She’s beautiful and she’s funny. This is helping us keep our animals healthy and well fed.”