Rare behind-the-scenes look as charity welcomes new arrivals

Donkeys stay in the New Arrivals unit for at least six weeks.
Donkeys stay in the New Arrivals unit for at least six weeks. © The Donkey Sanctuary

When a donkey is brought into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary, its first stop is the New Arrivals Unit. For the first time, a film crew has been given access to the sanctuary’s restricted unit, to find out just what goes into setting donkeys up on their journey to a happy, healthy life.

Donkeys come into The Donkey Sanctuary for a whole host of reasons. They may have been abandoned, rescued from a life of abuse, or relinquished by an owner who was no longer able to care for them. Each one has their own story and requires collaboration between a variety of expert staff to understand each donkey’s individual character, their needs, and to plan for their future.

The new short film, below, highlights the importance of this initial care and assessment programme, as well as good old-fashioned love and attention for the animals who arrive at the international headquarters in Devon.

Sara Blair-Salter, new arrivals manager says: “We’re really lucky to have a passionate team of people here looking after the donkeys. Our teams work around the clock to ensure the donkeys get the best care. We always have a waiting list of donkeys that need our help and are wanting to come into the sanctuary so we really have to prioritise those and make sure that we get them into our care as soon as we can.”

The area itself is restricted to ensure biosecurity and to prevent the potential spread of any diseases from incoming donkeys into the resident herd. The minimum stay a donkey has in New Arrivals is six weeks, though some do end up staying a lot longer, depending on their needs and their health.

A new arrival to The Donkey Sanctuary gets a checkup.
A new arrival to The Donkey Sanctuary gets a checkup. © The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, with special events held throughout 2019 to celebrate this important milestone. It is an opportunity to both look back on the charity’s landmark achievements and take stock of the massive challenges in a world where the suffering of animals remains abhorrent.

Since its foundation by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen in 1969, The Donkey Sanctuary has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse, to an international welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for a living.

The Donkey Sanctuary New Arrivals manager Sara Blair-Salter. © The Donkey Sanctuary

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