Life of a donkey

Donkey Sanctuary

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.

Donkey

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.

Donkey Sanctuary

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.

Donkey Sanctuary

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.

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey

I have seen them careless and playful too.

Donkey

Daddy, mommy and a little photo-bomber in background.

Donkey

With his mommy a couple of months later.

Donkey

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.

Donkey

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!

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey

Donkey

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey

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.

Donkey Sanctuary

Jason the donkey brays his heart out, and I am delighted to hear his performance.

Donkey Sanctuary

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.

Donkey

Thank you for reading!

www.inesemjphotography.com Have a great week!

151 comments

  1. I’ve always loved donkeys. What a cool place. I can’t believe they have over 1800! My kids enjoyed looking at all the pictures! There was lots of oohing and ahhing. 😀 I hope you are having a wonderful 2018 Inese!

    1. Thank you so much, Antonia. Hope the 2018 is good to us. Yes, it is a huge amount of rescued donkeys. About 500 of them are re-homed and live in the foster families. The others are divided between sanctuary farms where they simply live their life and don’t reproduce, but only this particular farm in Liscarroll is open for public, and there are about 130 donkeys in there.

  2. Once again, you have hit on a topic I have never heard about. Donkeys seem to rather prevalent in Ireland. Very sad to hear of their plight, but this refuge seems like a wonderful place for them. Enjoyed the pix of animals too.

    1. Thank you so much. Cruelty against animals is a shame of the country. People are talking about this a lot lately as everyone has a phone and can take pictures of what they see. Unfortunately the law is weak on animal abusers.

  3. A wonderful post, Inese with so many beautiful photos! I love donkeys since I can remember. Those eyes and lovely long ears are irresistible and I especially live their stubbornness!
    Sadly I’ve witnessed some bad abuse of donkeys when I was travelling in Egypt and Greece, it tore my heart out. 😦
    Glad though that there are some special people who take care of them in Ireland. Thank you for showing us around the farm and their lovely donkeys! xxxxxxxxxxxx

    1. Thank you Sarah. I don’t understand why people treat them so badly. Is it because they are so gentle and humble? I have seen those terrifying photographs of the donkeys with the overgrown hooves, 2-3 feet long. How could the owner let it happen? xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. By the way, whenever we go to farms, my grandies like to scratch donkey’s ears and feeding them apples. We ask owners if it is okay first. They are very gentle animals. 💞

      1. You have made a great point, Inese! I have two positive upcoming next week (after Valentine’s Day) posts with my brother Randy having improved and building his stamina! Thank you for your prayers and caring concern. He is working on a mural on a huge new Brewery wall and one in panels (for a church). 🙏 🕊 I felt a huge sense of relief this weekend.
        Bless you and may you have a special 💗 Valentine’s Day, my friend!

  5. I’m so glad you saw these special, safe and well taken care of donkeys. I have seven grandies so right now my extra money goes to their schools, projects and fun times, too. Their parents are always close in their own budget. I was like that while younger, as a single Mom. 🤗

  6. Donkeys are so beautiful. These are lovely pictures, Inese, as are your words of praise for such lovely gentle creatures. I can’t remember if I told you that the family who lived opposite me, when I was a child, bred donkeys. I used to love lying in bed in the morning listening to them braying. The baby donkeys were so cute. Back in 2015, I visited the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary. Here are two photos I took; not as impressive as yours, but they might be of interest to you https://sarahpotterwrites.com/2015/11/18/wordless-wednesday-happy-donkeys/

  7. I did not know or have any idea that donkeys are the most misunderstood and abused animals around the world. That is sad. Perhaps, that is the because many people do not hear much about them. Thank you for bringing the story about the cute animal here.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I agree with you that people don’t hear much about donkeys. A humble donkey deserves more love and appreciation. I don’t know why some people hurt animals and think it is ok. I guess it is a direct reflection of flaws in human nature, but still we all have a choice.

  8. Thanks for the beautiful pics of donkeys, Inese. And the cat is so cute too. I’m glad you did this post as I didn’t know just how many donkeys are left abandoned. I was in Brazil recently and saw some dogs in really poor conditions. I can’t believe how many animals are neglected or left to fend for themselves all around the world, here in Canada too. I think people should be obligated to get a license and take a test or something before owning a pet or any kind of animal.

    1. Thank you Carolee. I agree with you about a license issued by an animal welfare protection organisation, so that the owners were legally bound to comply, and the law could be enforced.

  9. Beautiful photos, Inese. I’m partial to donkeys and goats too. And I wish humans were kinder to our animal brothers and sisters. These types of places are the saving grace to so many different kinds of animals. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Yes. I was “babysitting” a farm last spring and a mama goat had quadruplets! I was “nanny goat” for a couple days until the owners got home. They have a special place in my heart. 🙂

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