Marvellous mules (and hinnies) in rare virtual visit

A virtual visit to see mules and hinnies is on this weekend in Sanctuary From Your Sofa.
A virtual visit to see mules and hinnies is on this weekend in Sanctuary From Your Sofa. © The Donkey Sanctuary

Ever wanted to know a little more about mules? A virtual visit to a farm with more than 100 mules and hinnies that is not open to the public is taking place next month.

Viewers are invited to tune in on October 17 for two live broadcasts and a pre-recorded film from Town Barton Farm, on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park. It marks the return of The Donkey Sanctuary’s award-winning Sanctuary From Your Sofa event, which started last year when the charity’s doors were closed to the public because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The virtual visit will showcase the sanctuary’s mules and reveal how intelligent these animals actually are.

Highlights include a tour of Town Barton Farm and an opportunity to meet the grooms who care for the 100 mules and hinnies. Staff will also explain how mules differ characteristically and physically from donkeys.

» Mules and hinnies — can you tell them apart?

The final live visit to the farm at 3pm will focus on the individual stories of some of the resident mules who now call Town Barton Farm their home. One of the stories includes that of nine-year-old mule Lugs, who came into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary as a foal in 2013.

Lugs was discovered cowering alongside her mother who had been severely injured. Despite the trauma early in her life, Lugs went on to make a full recovery thanks to expert care from staff at the charity and is now a favourite among grooms at Town Barton.

Paul Carter, Farm Manager at Town Barton Farm said: “We are really pleased to be able to give viewers a ‘behind the scenes’ look around Town Barton and demonstrate how we care for our resident herd.

“Mules are beautiful creatures and are often misunderstood, and we hope that by the end of the day, people will have a greater understanding of these special animals,” Carter says.

The 144-acre farm, which is not open to the public, sits on the edge of Dartmoor National Park and is home to more than 100 mules and hinnies, as well as 170 donkeys, who are cared for by a team of 14 full and part-time staff. Town Barton Farm is also a haven for wildlife, including foxes, deer, badgers, buzzards and brown hares. Areas of the farm are managed by the charity’s conservation team to help provide them with suitable habitat.

The Donkey Sanctuary’s regional centres in Ivybridge, Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Belfast remain temporarily closed to visitors, but its international headquarters in Sidmouth is open to visitors seven days a week, from 9am to 5pm. Entry to the sanctuary is free, as is parking, and dogs on leads are welcome.

The event was to be held on September 19 but the decision to postpone was made after one of the farm’s donkeys fell ill. He is undergoing veterinary care.

» Sign up for a reminder to watch “Marvellous Mules” on October 17, from 2pm (GMT)

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