Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey

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Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
Based onNestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey
by Gene Autry
Don Pfrimmer
Dave Burgess
Written byRomeo Muller
Directed byJules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
Narrated byRoger Miller
ComposersMaury Laws
Jules Bass
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersJules Bass
Arthur Rankin Jr.
CinematographyAkikazu Kono
Satoshi Fujino
Running time24 minutes
Production companyRankin/Bass Productions
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkABC
Original releaseDecember 3, 1977 (1977-12-03)
Followed byThe Stingiest Man in Town

Nestor the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a 1977 Christmas stop motion animated television special produced by Rankin/Bass Productions. It premiered on ABC on December 3, 1977.[1] The story is based on the 1975 song of the same name, written by Gene Autry, Don Pfrimmer and Dave Burgess.[2]


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 ridicules Nestor because of his ears. This seemingly comes to a halt during the celebration of winter solstice. Nestor's mother gives socks to Nestor to cover his ears.

That night, soldiers arrive from the Roman Empire in need of donkeys. After removing the socks from Nestor’s ears, the soldiers think that the owner of the stable, Olaf, was trying to trick them. Olaf offers to give them Nestor for free, but the soldiers instead take all of the other donkeys for free but leave Nestor. Enraged, Olaf throws Nestor out into a blizzard, where Nestor's mother sacrifices her life to shield him from the cold.

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.

Mary and Joseph are expecting Jesus, 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 the stable where Mary subsequently gives birth to Jesus, Nestor finds his way back to his home stable where he is hailed by Olaf and the other animals.




In addition to Akikazu Kono, this is Rankin/Bass' second and last "Animagic" stop motion puppet production to be supervised by another Japanese animator, Satoshi Fujino, who also previously worked on The Little Drummer Boy, Book II.

Home video[edit]

The special was released in 2000 with The Year Without a Santa Claus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1989). Animated TV Specials: The Complete Directory to the First Twenty-Five Years, 1962-1987. Scarecrow Press. pp. 284–285. ISBN 0-8108-2198-2. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  2. ^ Crump, William D. (2019). Happy Holidays—Animated! A Worldwide Encyclopedia of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Cartoons on Television and Film. McFarland & Co. p. 209. ISBN 9781476672939.

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