We are sure we don’t need to tell you, but donkeys are wonderful creatures and make the greatest of friends! We feel very lucky taking care of our beautiful rescue animals, and we love every single one of them for their unique qualities and perks; ideally we would like to keep them all with us forever. But the reality is that there is not enough space in our sanctuaries to home the many animals that need our help most: the ones we currently don’t know yet, and are still out there waiting for our help.
Besides this, many of the donkeys living with us are young and healthy, and have fully recovered from their past, less happy lives. These animals would actually benefit from having their own home, and a dedicated owner to give them lots of time and personal attention. So, for the few that do not already dream of one day having a pair of donkeys, and for the many that do, but just need that last little push, we are pleased to share this list of 10 inarguable reasons to adopt a pair of donkeys:
1. They need and deserve a good home and a loving owner
Donkeys have helped humans with the most strenuous and ungrateful tasks for several thousands of years, and have far too often been repaid only with abuse, neglect and mistreatment. Today still, many animals across Europe and worldwide are overworked and lack the basic care, and when too old or no longer useful they are simply left abandoned. Donkeys have a very long memory and do not forget their past, but, lucky for us humans, they do forgive. We witness proof of this at our sanctuaries every day: the majority of our donkeys and mules have had a very rough start in life and arrived frightened, distrusting and sad, but without exception our staff’s patient handling, care, and affection transformed them into calm, loving and social animals.
2. They will become your oldest and most loyal friends
As they have such a good memory, donkeys will also remember all the good moments you share, and will repay you with an unequalled loyalty and affection. Donkeys attach to their owners, in some cases they’re even closer to their keepers than they are to their fellow equines. Moreover, they are devoted and lasting friends: even after being separated for years, they will always recognise an old companion. Combined with their long life expectancy of around 35(!) years, this makes donkeys very good “relationship material” for anyone ready for that long-term commitment. For many donkey owners, their long-eared companions are truly their oldest and most valued friends.
3. They are “that guy everyone wants at their party”
Donkeys are social and curious animals, and as such make for very entertaining company. They are inquisitive and enjoy being around humans; your donkey will want to shadow you when you’re busy, and “help” you with whatever job it is you’re doing. They are also great playtime companions and enjoy a game and a challenge—especially when there are treats to be earned! And if after all that, you just want to sit back and enjoy your cup of tea, you can be sure your cheeky donkey friends will provide you with live entertainment to enjoy from your lazy chair.
4. They are great with children and other animals
We witness it on a daily basis at our sanctuaries: donkeys love children, and children love them! Although playful by nature, donkeys also tend to be more stoic and calm than horses, making them more reliable company for children. Young donkeys certainly enjoy a bit of rough and tumble amongst equals, but they are caring animals and tend to be gentle and protective around children. Your donkeys will teach your child many valuable life lessons about kindness, compassion, and responsibility, and they will love being part of your family. Does your family already include other animals? Don’t worry, your donkeys will blend in effortlessly! They are known to form strong bonds not only with humans and other donkeys, but also with other equines and animals. We have come across donkeys with pigs, sheep, goats, and even a duck as a “bestie”!
5. They make excellent Personal Assistants
Donkeys are very intelligent, and can prove useful assistants in many ways. With extensive training, a donkey can be taught to remember more than 100 words; just imagine the opportunities of working with an animal with a vocabulary that extensive! Besides having impressive language skills, donkeys can also help you navigate: they know how to find the shortest way home and can locate hidden water sources, and will alert you if the route you chose is for any reason unsafe and find you an alternative.
6. They are a gardener’s best friend
Donkeys are proper foodies, and they spend most of their day either eating or thinking of and searching for food. They’re keen grazers and browsers; in greener surroundings their access to grass and leafs should actually be restricted, as they have a tendency to overeat, which can result in many serious health issues. But having such a food-focused friend also has a great benefit: as long as you keep an eye on their intake and the type of greens they eat (some seemingly harmless plants and trees are poisonous to donkeys! https://www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk/what-we-do/knowledge-and-advice/fo...), they can help you get rid of a great deal of excess grass and shrubbery. Simply let your donkeys graze that grass that needs cutting, or turn them out on that piece of land with the hedge that is growing out of proportion. Have you been cutting back your trees? Letting your donkeys feed off loose branches is a great way of keeping them busy, and ensuring a varied diet!
7. They are the most trustworthy security guards
Donkeys make excellent guard animals! We all know donkeys as cuddly and sweet animals, but they are also very strong and brave; in the countryside, farmers own donkeys to protect their sheep from wolves, wild dogs and foxes. Do you live rural and are you worried about intruders? A donkey will always alert you if someone unfamiliar enters your property, and will not back away from danger. This territorial instinct is caused by the scarce water supply in their natural habitat; on the dry plains of Africa, donkeys would fight each other to defend their territory, as losing it would generally mean losing access to the only source of water in a vast area.
8. They will improve your mental health
Save money on your therapist, spend time with your donkeys instead! Donkeys are excellent “mind doctors”, and are far more economic and better company than their human counterparts. They’re sensitive and intelligent beings, with a gift to recognise and respond to complex human emotions. For over 40 years, the Donkey Sanctuary have been using this valuable trade to help vulnerable people, providing donkey-assisted therapy sessions in several of their UK centres. If you are not convinced of the healing power of one-on-one donkey time, just come and visit our sanctuary at the end of a busy working week; we promise that after one afternoon spent with our donkeys, you’ll be able to take on the world again!
9. They don’t ask for much in return
For the amount of love and joy they will bring to your life, donkeys really don’t ask for much; an acre of land with a stable or shelter, access to clean water, and a big pile of hay and straw will bring you a long way. Add lots of cuddles and the occasional carrot or ginger biscuit to the mix, and they may even forgive you for the necessary visits to the vet, farrier and dentist. The average yearly cost to own a donkey in Spain is €1,000; a small price to pay for unlimited access to donkey cuddle sessions!
10. They have the cutest ears of the animal kingdom!
Donkeys come in many shapes, colours and sizes, and their characters are equally diverse. Whether you are looking for an active friend that keeps you on your toes, a gentle but playful friend for your son or daughter, a food-loving friend to help you maintain your perfect garden, a strong, fierce friend to protect your family and flock, or that modest, cuddly friend to spend your quiet afternoons and evenings with, we are sure your perfect match is out there and we would love to hook you up!
For more information about our rehoming program, visit our website, or drop us an email. And of course we are always happy to welcome you at the Sanctuary, to introduce you to the animals and answer any questions you may have!
Apply to foster donkeys
We would be delighted to talk to you about the Foster Scheme and answer any questions you may have and send you an application form. Don't hesitate to call our office Monday to Friday on (00 34) 952 735 077 and we will put you in contact with our Welfare Officer.
You can also apply online to foster donkeys.
We can only continue improving the lives of donkeys with your help, so please continue to support the work of El Refugio del Burrito, as together, we can make a big difference.