Nestor, The Long-Eared Christmas Donkey is a Christmas television special produced in stop motion animation by Rankin-Bass. It tells the story of a donkey named Nestor who eventually went on to carry Mary to Bethlehem. Roger Miller sang the majority of the special's musical numbers, as well as voicing the narrator, Sputal.


SPOILER: Plot details or story follow.

The film is narrated by Santa Claus's donkey, Sputal. He tells the tale of a donkey with abnormally long ears named Nestor, his ancestor who lived in the days of the Roman Empire. Every animal in the stable disliked 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 come from the Roman Empire saying they need strong donkeys. 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 thought the owner of the stable was trying to trick them. The owner, Olaf, says he will give them Nestor for free, but the soldiers are angry so they force him to give him all the donkeys for free and do not take Nestor. The soldiers leave. Olaf is angry at Nestor because he did not get any money and at the same time lost all of his donkeys, and he throws Nestor out the door, saying that he doesn't care if Nestor freezes to death and tells him to never come back. Nestor's mother escapes the stable and finds Nestor. There is a blizzard going on outside by then, so Nestor's mother finds shelter and uses her body to cover Nestor up. He wakes up in the morning to find his mother frozen to death. Nestor cries over the loss of his mother and walks away.


A little while later, something falls out of the sky. It looks like a little girl, but a little girl would freeze to death in the blizzard. The being says she's a cherub, calling herself Tilly. She says they need to travel to Bethlehem, but she cannot tell Nestor why. She only tells him a poem; "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 you will save another, as your mother once saved you." Nestor disagrees at first, but then is told that "He" wants him to. After he agrees they travel for many months across distant lands and even a sea. When they get finally get to the outskirts of Bethlehem, Tilly tells Nestor to stay there. Nestor finds a stable to stay in and still nobody will buy him.


One day a couple comes in. Their names are Mary and Joseph. Mary is expecting a child, so she cannot walk the miles to Bethlehem and they do not have much money. They take Nestor because of his "gentle eyes". While Mary, on Nestor's back, and Joseph are traveling to Bethlehem, they 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 singing angels. Nestor guides Mary and Joseph through the storm, wrapping Mary in his ears. They soon arrive at Bethlehem and they find a stable to stay in. Mary gives birth to Jesus and Nestor finds his way back to the stable where he was born. When he returns home, he is considered a hero and all the animals become friends with him.In the present-day, Speiltoe alters a Nativity miniature scene so that the donkey now looks like Nestor.

Spoilers end here.




After acquiring the distribution rights for the post-1973 Rankin/Bass specials, Warner Home Video released Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey on VHS in 1993. The special was later included, along with Rudolph's Shiny New Year, on both of Warner Home Video's DVD releases of The Year Without a Santa Claus. The special was also featured on a Warner Archive manufacture-on-demand DVD with The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus.


Voice actor Character
Roger Miller Sputal/Narrator
Brenda Vaccaro Tilly
Paul Frees Olaf
Donkey dealer
Don Messick Roman soldier
Linda Gary Nestor's Mom
Iris Rainer voice
Shelly Hines voice
Eric Stern Nestor

External links

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerCricket on the HearthThe Little Drummer BoyFrosty the SnowmanSanta Claus is Comin' to Town • "A Christmas Tree" • 'Twas the Night Before ChristmasThe Year Without a Santa ClausThe First Christmas: The Story of the First Christmas SnowFrosty's Winter WonderlandRudolph's Shiny New YearThe Little Drummer Boy, Book IINestor, the Long-Eared Christmas DonkeyThe Stingiest Man in TownRudolph and Frosty's Christmas in JulyJack FrostPinocchio's ChristmasThe Leprechauns' Christmas GoldThe Life and Adventures of Santa ClausSanta, Baby!