Mistaken for a carrot? Markus Zahn stands at his sportscar, which was allegedly damaged by a donkey. Picture: Carolin Eckenfels/dpa via AP.
Mistaken for a carrot? Markus Zahn stands at his sportscar, which was allegedly damaged by a donkey. Picture: Carolin Eckenfels/dpa via AP.
'Vitus' the supercar-munching donkey seen in a calmer moment on his meadow in central Germany. Picture: Hit Radio FFH/dpa via AP.
'Vitus' the supercar-munching donkey seen in a calmer moment on his meadow in central Germany. Picture: Hit Radio FFH/dpa via AP.

Giessen, Germany - If you were a hungry donkey, would you mistake a bright orange McLaren 650S Spider for a carrot? A certain fellow called Vitus did exactly that, and now his owners are in a spot of trouble.

On Thursday, a local court ruled that the donkey's owners must pay for the damage that their animal caused when it bit the rear of a McLaren, harming its paintwork and a carbon fibre panel.

According to a court spokesman, the court was convinced that the donkey had twice bitten the rear of the car during the incident in September 2016, and had caused some 5800 euros (R92 000) in damages.

The owner of the car had been forced to pay for the damages out of his own pocket, and had taken the matter to court after the donkey owners' insurance had only agreed to pay for half of the damages.

The 50-year-old plaintiff arrived at the court on Thursday in the sportscar in question. The donkey, Vitus, on the other hand, was not present, nor were his former owners. According to media reports, the animal now has a new owner.

"Did you know that a dangerous donkey was up to mischief in the area?" the lead judge in the case asked the plaintiff during the proceedings. Given such a curious case, the atmosphere in the courtroom was more jovial than usual.

However, the more important and serious question for the court was whether Vitus really did bite the sportscar, or if the scratches were already there. The car's owner had asserted that his car had no previous paint damage.

The man told the court that he had bought himself the vehicle three years ago, and had briefly wanted to go to the doctor on the day of the incident.

He had wanted to turn around near a field and had started to reverse, but had not seen the donkey until it dived forward and twice bit the rear of the car.

A witness, an employee of the plaintiff, confirmed his report. The court's ruling is not yet legally binding.

The case had already caused a stir when it first surfaced a year ago. At the time, police reported that the donkey might have confused the orange sports car with a giant carrot. 

The donkey's owner allegedly told the McLaren driver that he should have picked a better parking place.