A trio of trend-setting donkeys at a southwestern Ontario animal sanctuary are turning heads with their farm-fresh fashion.

“That donkey is wearing pants!” a young visitor to The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada told CTV Kitchener. “But I thought donkeys wouldn’t like pants?”

Well, it turns out they do.

It all began with a donkey named Big Ben, one of 86 rescue animals at the Puslinch, Ont. sanctuary.

For years, Big Ben had been battling bug bites

“It would get worse and worse as the summer would progress,” said Elizabeth Brezina, the sanctuary’s foster farm co-ordinator. “We had tried all sorts of different things -- fly repellents, fly socks -- and nothing just really was that permanent fix for him.”

Then Brezina came up with a stylish scheme.

“It kind of started as a joke,” Brezina said. “I was like, ‘Sheila, could you make him some pants?’”

Sheila Zanyk, a volunteer at the sanctuary with serious sewing machine skills, loved the idea.

“My first reaction was, ‘Yeah, let’s do this!’” she recalled.

Zanyk quickly got to work on a pair of made-to-measure pants.

“I brought my measuring tape and measured the angle on the back leg, measured the height over their backs and went home and figured it out,” Zanyk explained. “Each donkeys’ legs (are) a different size, around their bodies a different size, so you can’t just make a small medium and large and have them fit.”

When Big Ben finally had his tailored trousers put on, he immediately transformed into a farm fashionista.

“The first time we put them on him, actually, he was really proud of himself,” Zanyk recalled. “He walked around the whole barnyard, just ‘look at me.’”

Big Ben now has both a plaid and paisley pair, but his pants also unleashed a wave of equine envy at the sanctuary.

“One of our other donkeys, Gilbert, kind of just stared at him and followed him around,” Brezina said. “We thought he was pretty jealous, so Sheila of course had to make Gilbert his own pair of pants.”

After Gilbert, another donkey named Beau got a pair too. The dapper donkeys will don their new duds so long as the flies persist, which is usually from May until the first frost.

“I think if it was up to them, they’d all have pants,” Brezina said. “But I feel like Sheila would never leave her sewing machine.”

With files from CTV Kitchener’s Marta Czurylowicz