It’s Donkey Week – what can you do to help a donkey?

Today I’d like to talk about donkeys! 8th May 2018 is the beginning of Donkey Week, which is a series of events run in the UK by the Donkey Sanctuary.

The closest I got to meeting donkeys was on the Isle of Wight. I went there with some friends, but it was around Christmas time, and the sanctuary was closed to the public. As we stood by the fence outside, some of the donkeys came up to the other side and started braying. I wasn’t close enough to give them a pat, but it was as if they still wanted to say hello to us!

I’ve been following the Donkey Sanctuary on Facebook for a while and received their emails. The sanctuary is involved in helping donkeys all over the world, so as well as looking after abandoned or neglected donkeys here, they also work on shaping legislation in other countries. If you aren’t able to help financially, there are still ways in which you can help such as public awareness, sharing informatoin on social media, or signing petitions if you agree with them to show that the petition is supported by members of the public.

According to the site’s website, there are over 50 million donkeys around the world. In other parts of the world, some are treated as part of the family,helping to bring water and firewood, but in other areas, their life isn’t as good and they are not treated well. The sanctuary works to change laws to stop cruel or bad practices, address cases in which they are being neglected, and improve the life of the donkey worldwide. This includes monitoring what’s happening to donkeys around the world, particularly when they are working in dangerous places such as brick kilns and building sites.
Donkey week gives people the chance to meet the Donkey Sanctuary donkeys, go on wildlife walks, attend talks, hang out witt, or groom the donkeys. Accommodation is provided by a range of hotels and guest houses that are part of the Donkey Week scheme, and 10% of your accommodation costs go back to the sanctuary and therefore to looking after the donkeys.

I’m not actually able to go to any of the events this time, but I did adopt Coco the retired donkey! There is also Bonnie, the inquisitiv donkey who likes to try and get a second turn at being groomed, Cisco the organiser donkey, who makes sure all his stable mates are doing what they should, Henry the visually impaired donkey, who is getting used to getting around relying on his ears, and Ripple, who puts his head on your shoulder to show affection. There arre also many others, so do check them out if you want to meet the rest of the donkey family!

If you go to the adopt a donkey part of the website, you will find pictures of all of the donkeys and some information about each donkey.

Sponsoring a donkey costs £36, or £3 a month. You can receive a welcome pack with pictures and postcards, or you can choose not to receive the pack so that there is no cost for it and the total amount goes to the donkeys. I wouldn’t be able to see the pictures, so I ticked the box to say that I didn’t need a pack.Coco is at the sanctuary in Devon, so if we ever make it down there, I might be able to meet him!

Have you ever been to a donkey sanctuary? Will you be doing anything for Donkey Week this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Visit to the small breeds farm and owl centre

After surprising my partner with a trip to the wolf sanctuary, he surprised me with a trip to the owl centre!

The owl centre is in Herefordshire, and it is home to a wide variety of owls, as well as a number of small animals.

The owls live in the owl garden, and here you can see the five native British owls, as well as owls from all around the world. Some of these owl species are not on public display anywhere else in Europe.

The five owl species that you’ll find in Britain are the British Barn owl, the Tawny owl, the Little owl, the Short-eared owl, and the Long-eared owl. My favourite is the barn owl!

All of these owls are facing challenges at the moment due to changes in farming practices (better pest control means less rodents to feed upon), new roads, and fewer suitable feeding sites. These challenges are particularly intense in the winter time, especially when snowy conditions make it harder to find food. There are a number of charities that work to help the owls to thrive and survive, particularly as falling population numbers have been a cause for concern in recent years.

I’ve been collecting owls for years, but I think Harry Potter contributed to an increased interest in all things with owls on them! Products with owl designs are everywhere in the shops, and I hope this increased interest in them will also translate into people learning more about them and supporting them. A good way to do this is to visit the owl centre. There is information outside every cage about the species, where it’s from, and more general information about its appearance, feeding habits and preferred nesting sites.

If you want to see more owl pictures, visit the owl page on the owl sanctuary’s website.

It was probably a good time to visit because there were lots of tiny animals. We went in the pen with some lambs. They were rather cautious, but as soon as one headed over, the others dared to come a bit closer.
The farm encourages petting and stroking of the animals, so it’s a good experience for visually impaired people too. We didn’t ask about handling any of the owls, apart from the one that greeted people at the entrance, but my partner read the information to me so I could imagine how the different species looked. In any event, it was daytime, so some of them probably wanted to sleep!

There are a number of different types of goat, including pygmies, boer goats, and Golden Guernsey Goats, all of which were eager to chomp anything they could find, and not just the food that was offered to them. One larger goat tried to munch my hair, and one of the tiny kids, that were the size of small cats, tried to nibble the bottom of my dress.

The miniature horses and donkeys have often been featured on TV.

The farm would not be complete without the farm dogs! When my boyfriend said “I’ve seen someone whom you’ll want to meet,” I wasn’t expecting a Labrador, in fact there were two of them, but I was very happy to give them a pat!

Other animals that you can visit are reindeer, alpaca, pigs, cows (including the miniature zebu, the world’s smallest breed of cow), sheep, horses, and donkeys.

This is where you can see some pictures of the other animals on the Owl Centre’s website.

There is also a house for small animals. I stroked some floppy bunny ears, but there weren’t so many opportunities for interaction here. Still you could see the guinea pigs, mice, chipmunks and chinchillas.

After our visit, we had lunch in the gift shop, where I also bought an owl necklace, an owl bracelet and a little bag with an owl face on it to add to my ever-growing owl collection.

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