Donkeys are the most misunderstood and abused animals around the world.
Bonnie Jo Campbell
Last summer I visited The Donkey Sanctuary farm in Liscarroll, Co Cork. The farm is a home for 127 donkeys ( the number might have changed), but the Sanctuary has over 1800 donkeys in their care, about 500 of them re-homed. How did it happen that so many donkeys had to be rescued? Sadly, in order to claim agricultural subsidies many farmers use donkeys as a low-cost means of reaching the minimum stocking density required. The cost of castrating the young males is far higher than their value, and the donkeys that are left to fend for themselves in the fields would breed all the year round. Also, if a donkey gets sick it is often cheaper to buy a new donkey than to take it to the vet. On Done Deal website you can get a donkey for as little as €50, and often “to a Good Home free”. All of this contributes to the high numbers of neglected and abandoned donkeys nationally.
I came to the sanctuary on my way to Killarney and had less than an hour to look around and enjoy the company of sweet donkeys. I have always had a soft spot for goats and donkeys.
There is a cute picnic area in the farm, and everything is tidy and homey.
In this building you can buy some donkey-related souvenirs and make a donation. You can adopt a donkey for a donation of €25 a year.
After I made a donation, Margaret and I had a lively conversation about the Sanctuary. There are three more donkey farms in Ireland, she said, but only this one is open for visitors. They are not a breeding farm, but sometimes they get a pregnant female. No baby donkey this time though.
This cat deserves a picture. His eyes were permanently wide-opened which has probably something to do with his busy schedule as the mouse hunter in the farm.
Over the years, I have taken many donkey pictures. I often make them black and white to express the sadness I feel about the life of a donkey.
I have seen them careless and playful too.
Daddy, mommy and a little photo-bomber in background.
With his mommy a couple of months later.
Some facts about donkeys:
There are five main breeds and cross-breeds of donkey in Ireland: Grand Noir du Berry ( black donkey); hinny, the offspring of female donkey and a male horse; mule; miniature donkey, and a shaggy Poitou donkey.
Donkeys can live up to 50 years. They are social animals and it is not good to keep a donkey as a lone animal. Donkeys are stoical by nature and won’t show that they are in pain. Proverbial stubbornness of the donkey can indicate that the animal is simply afraid. Being safe is important for donkeys.
The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1972. Many things have changed since, and many donkeys have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, but there is a 40 years old donkey still living in the farm. The average age of the other donkeys is 10 years, which is an indication of an economic downturn in Ireland a decade ago.
Katie is a volunteer from The Netherlands. She is a donkey whisperer 🙂 Katie explained me the ‘mystery’ of the yellow and red collars: red means a boy and yellow a girl. And there are the names written on the collars!
I found a video on YouTube, Castletown Donkey Derby, 1994. It is fun but still I am sorry for the donkeys.
When a donkey brays, the other donkeys listen.
Jason the donkey brays his heart out, and I am delighted to hear his performance.
A humble man’s helper, donkey costs almost nothing to keep. A little bit of care is all he needs – hoof trimming, shelter, access to water. Civilization has used the poor donkey badly, and as if it is not enough, donkey’s meat and hide are the subject of trade in some countries.
I wish we lived in an ideal world where nobody is hungry, cold and lonely, and the ability to hurt others is erased from human genome.
Thank you for reading!
Have a great week!