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The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary is the most influential donkey welfare charity in the world. Founded by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE, who dedicated her life to championing donkeys, the charity has grown from an organisation rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse, to an international presence.

The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary is dedicated to transforming the lives of millions of donkeys, mules and the people who depend on them for their livelihood.

The charity’s international headquarters is situated in the rolling hills of Sidmouth, and also serves as a visitor site. To commemorate The Donkey Sanctuary’s 50th anniversary in 2019, the charity welcomed HRH The Duchess of Cornwall to its HQ.

That year, it also rebuilt its award-winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden back at its Sidmouth site, so it could be enjoyed for free, by nearly 400,000 visitors.

The Sidmouth sanctuary is one of six regional centres around the UK, with a network of other sanctuaries and holding bases in the UK and Europe, providing a home to thousands of donkeys and mules.

A state-of-the-art veterinary hospital near Honiton was opened by The Donkey Sanctuary in 2017 which treats sick donkeys, both inside and outside the charity’s care. Here, training is also provided to animal welfare officers and vets from across the world.

Those who have visited the sanctuary in Sidmouth would not have failed to notice its delightful setting, with views stretching down to the Jurassic Coast. The Donkey Sanctuary occupies more than 1,200 acres of farmland in Devon and Dorset, most of which falls within the rolling hills of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

This land provides the resident donkeys with summer grazing pastures and haylage for the winter, as well as supporting wildlife and semi-natural habitats.

The Donkey Sanctuary continues to be a free attraction. Offering a gift shop, restaurant, interactive trails and an Exhibition Barn, the charity’s Sidmouth site offers even more for visitors to experience, with all profits going back into supporting the work of the charity.

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Supported by Devon County Council