A few weeks ago we were stuck for something to do a on a Sunday afternoon.
My husband had been told about a donkey sanctuary not too far from us that had opened recently so we thought we would give it a try. We arranged a family afternoon out, myself my husband, our two children, my mother-in-law and also my brother and sister in law and their 2 children!!!
When we arrived at the Wonkey Donkey Visitor Center, the car park looked a bit empty. The doors were closed (the weather wasn’t the best that day) but there was a sign outside saying that they were open and we were welcome to come in.
To be honest I wasn’t expecting much, my memories from childhood of visiting horse and pony sanctuaries were of limited facilities, muddy dirt tracks, smelly stables and cold outside toilets. I was most pleasantly surprised to walk in and find a lovely warm cafeteria area, serving hot drinks, home made cake and selection of other snacks and sandwiches, etc. There was also a beautifully stocked sweet cart which of course the kids spotted straight away. There was plenty of seating, and there looked to be even more in another area, so we said that we would see the donkeys and then come back for hot chocolate!
We were greeted by a lovely lady (sorry I can’t remember her name) who took us around the center and introduced us to all the donkeys. There were 17 at the time we visited, and each has it’s own story to tell, some of them extremely sad stories of neglect and very bad treatment. Despite that, most of the donkeys were extremely friendly an happy to have visitors. The weather was a bit wet and since donkey’s coats aren’t waterproof they opted to stay inside their stables for most of our visit, although they did come to the doorway to have a good fuss and find out who we were. We also met Jenny, the founder of the sanctuary and heard a bit about how it came to be. It’s a great story but I shall leave that for another day (or better still go and hear it for yourself!).
The last three Donkeys we saw were new arrivals, Rolo, Finn and Isaac the mule. They had been brought over from Ireland where they had been very badly treated. They donkeys weren’t ready for too much human contact yet, they were still very nervous but the lady we spoke to seem confident that it wouldn’t be long before they managed to start to trust people again.
The kids fell instantly in love with them, and that’s when we started to think about adopting one. Here is my daughter having a little kiss with Finn!
£25 to sponsor a donkey for a year is very reasonable considering what it costs to look after these animals properly, we were told that if we decided to adopt a donkey we would get photos and a letter from our donkey and be able to come to special members only days to spend time with our donkey up close.
We went inside to get a hot chocolate. The chocolate was beautiful, and the comfy seating and log burner in the cafe just made it perfect (I hadn’t seen the log burner when we first arrived as it was round the corner in the extra bit). We took our time and looked again at all the donkey’s information.
Well you guessed it our two children couldn’t decide! They had each fallen in love with a different donkey, and so we ended up adopting 2! My daughter chose Finn in the picture above, and my son wanted to adopt Isaac the mule after hearing how horribly afraid he was of people after beg starved and beaten. He’s hoping that one day Isaac will let him stroke him.
My brother and sister-in-law adopted Magic on behalf of my 3 year old niece too.
A week or so after we adopted the donkey’s we received in the post a letter and a photo of each donkey. The kids couldn’t wait to take them into school to show their friends.
We can’t wait to come back another time when it’s drier and the donkeys will be able to come out and say a proper hello. In fact we have a visit planned this weekend, and we are bringing more family members!!
The kids are looking forward to lots of visits and coming back on members days to make lots of memories with their new donkey friends!!