Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

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Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
Format Animated Musical
Directed by Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Produced by Jules Bass
Arthur Rankin, Jr.
Written by Romeo Muller
Starring Roger Miller
Brenda Vaccaro
Paul Frees
Don Messick
Linda Gary
Music by Jules Bass
Maury Laws
Production company Rankin/Bass Productions
Country United States
Language English
Original channel ABC
Release date December 3, 1977
Running time 24 minutes
Followed by Rudolph's Shiny New Year
Official website

Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin-Bass. It was first aired on ABC in 1977.


Santa Claus' donkey, Spieltoe, narrates the story of a donkey named Nestor with abnormally long ears, who lived in the days of the Roman Empire. Every animal in the stable ridicule Nestor because of his ears. One day the animals in the stable are celebrating the winter solstice. Nestor's mother gives socks to Nestor to cover his ears.

That night when Nestor is asleep, soldiers arrive from the Roman Empire. They pick a bunch of donkeys, including Nestor, but not his mother. Nestor tries to get away and one of the soldiers grabs the socks on Nestor's ears. They come off. The soldiers think that the owner of the stable, Olaf, was trying to trick them. Olaf says he will give them Nestor for free, but the soldiers force him to give him the donkeys for free and do not take Nestor. After the soldiers leave a furious Olaf forces Nestor out, saying that he does not care if he freezes to death. Nestor's mother escapes the stable and finds him. As a blizzard rages outside, and there is no indoor shelter to be had, Nestor's mother finds a small cove out of the wind and uses her body to shield her son from the storm. Nestor wakes up in the morning only to find that his mother has died.

Later, Nestor meets a cherub named Tilly. She says they need to travel to Bethlehem, telling him "Your ears can do wondrous things no other ears can do. The sounds they hear will guide you on a path that's straight and true, and then you will save another, as your mother once saved you." They travel across the desert sands for many months, and when they finally get to the outskirts of Bethlehem, Tilly tells Nestor to wait. Even though he finds a rundown old stable, nobody buys him.

One day, Mary and Joseph visit. Mary is expecting a child, and they do not have much money. They take Nestor because of his "gentle eyes", but are caught in a sandstorm. In the midst of the storm, Nestor hears Tilly's voice, but recognizes it as his mother's, and she tells him to follow the voices of the angels. Nestor guides Mary and Joseph through the storm, wrapping Mary in his ears, soon arriving at Bethlehem. They find a proper stable, where Mary subsequently gives birth to Jesus after which Nestor finds his way back home, where he is considered a hero.

Voice cast[edit]

DVD details[edit]

Released with The Year Without a Santa Claus

  • Release date: October 31, 2000
  • Full Screen
  • Region: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Audio tracks: English


  • This was the first animated television program that Brenda Vaccaro, who voiced Tilly, worked on; in later years she would become the voice for Bunny Bravo on the TV series Johnny Bravo.
  • This special currently airs on ABC Family annually, heavily edited.
  • The Rudolph model as used in Rudolph's Shiny New Year is seen in the shot at the very end standing near the Christmas tree with the group of a few familiar characters. In addition, Jingle and Jangle (from The Year Without a Santa Claus), Mrs. Claus (as she is shown in The Year Without a Santa Claus), Santa, and other elves in the barn are there before Nestor says "Merry Christmas".
  • Joshua the camel from The Little Drummer Boy and The Little Drummer Boy, Book II served as one of the camels in this special.
  • The song "Don't laugh and make somebody cry" has been cut from the ABC Family Broadcasts of the special.
  • The reference to Santa Claus having a donkey is similar to the one found in the song "Dominick the Donkey," the 1960 Lou Monte song.
  • Both Speiltote and Nestor's names are Italian.

External links[edit]