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Working Towards a Better World for Donkeys with The Donkey Sanctuary

8 May, 2019

Every year, The Donkey Sanctuary welcomes hundreds of people from around the world to its international headquarters in Devon for International Donkey Week. This year’s event is already underway with a flurry of activities on offer, such as guest speakers, social events, wildlife walks, demonstrations and plenty of opportunities to meet and groom the resident donkeys.

To celebrate Donkey Week 2019, we recently reached out to The Donkey Sanctuary to learn more about the international animal welfare organisation and the work it does to protect the welfare of donkeys around the world.

Can you tell us a little about The Donkey Sanctuary?

The Donkey Sanctuary is proud to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. Since its foundation, it has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse, to an international welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and the people who depend on them for a living.

What are some of the biggest threats facing donkeys today?

Internationally, one of the biggest threats facing donkeys today is the demand for their skins to produce a traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao. Ejiao is made from donkey-derived gelatin.

Donkeys are frequently sourced from donkey-dependent communities, particularly in Africa and South America, and the trade has impacted on their livelihoods.

The Donkey Sanctuary is calling for a halt to the trade in donkey skins until the impact of the trade can be assessed and shown to be both humane for donkeys and sustainable for the communities that depend upon them.

What importance do donkeys have today?

Donkeys have always been a cornerstone in human existence and they still prop up entire communities today, ferrying water, food and crops.

The vast majority of the estimated 45 million donkeys are working animals, essential to the livelihoods to some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

These donkeys, often used for farming and transportation, commonly endure the greatest suffering. Their socio-economic value can be taken for granted, with working people taking advantage of their stoical, hardworking traits.

What are some of the ways The Donkey Sanctuary works to protect the well-being of donkeys and mules?

The Donkey Sanctuary has 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to around 7,000 donkeys and mules.

The charity’s state-of-the art donkey hospital is a centre of excellence and treats sick donkeys both inside and outside the care of The Donkey Sanctuary. Here we’re able to share our growing body of specialist knowledge and experience around the world. UK veterinary schools send students to learn from us and we’ve hosted training events and shared donkey specific veterinary information across the globe. We also encourage our vets of the future by holding several ‘Junior Vet Days’ throughout the year, giving youngsters a taste of what life is like inside a real veterinary hospital.

Worldwide, the charity operates programmes in almost 40 countries for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin. From the brick kilns of Asia to the rural communities of Africa and South America, programmes are collaborative, with local teams and partners impacting on animal welfare through the education and training of owners and other carers.

Community projects are complemented by advocacy work with governments to put animal welfare on the legislative agenda.

What are some of the events on for Donkey Week 2019?

Held at of our international headquarters in Devon, Donkey Week offers an opportunity for supporters to visit some of the farms that are not normally open to the public.

Many visitors come back year after year and we have a packed programme of events planned to help mark our 50th anniversary. There will be talks by staff, volunteers and trustees, donkey-facilitated learning taster sessions, donkey feeding, grooming and even trailer rides.

What are some other ways The Donkey Sanctuary works to raise funds?

The Donkey Sanctuary holds many events throughout the year at its centres around the UK. From Summer Fairs to Dog Shows, and Food Fairs to Christmas Carol Services.

To celebrate Golden Anniversary this year, The Donkey Sanctuary will be holding its inaugural ‘Dawdle for Donkeys’ fundraising walk. Raising vital funds for donkeys, the fun walk on 15 June takes in the stunning countryside around the sanctuary in Sidmouth. To sign up for the ‘Dawdle for Donkeys’ please visit the event website.

We also hold Junior Vet Days, Donkey Experience Days and our ultimate camping experience for donkey lovers ‘Bray and Stay’.

Our Donkey World shop features a whole array of quality donkey designed products to suit all pockets. These include toys and games, clothing, books and designer gifts. To see more please visit the shop.

We have an army of talented knitters produce wonderful knitted and crocheted donkeys, which are sold in our shop and at fundraising events.

What role does charity merchandise play in your fundraising strategy?

Our Donkey World shop contains a wide range of quality donkey-design items and gifts. They are the perfect way to support The Donkey Sanctuary, and make ideal gifts and souvenirs of your visit. As part of Golden anniversary celebrations, we have introduced our very own Donkey Sanctuary Monopoly! To find out more please visit our Donkey World shop.


To learn more about The Donkey Sanctuary and see what’s on for Donkey Week 2019, visit their website.

It’s also worth mentioning that The Donkey Sanctuary is holding its inaugural ‘Dawdle for Donkeys’ fundraising walk in June 2019! Sign up to take on the charity’s new walking challenge and help raise funds for donkey and mules in need!

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