Welcome to The Donkey Sanctuary's Media Centre where journalists can find contact details as well as our latest press releases and information about the charity.

The Donkey Sanctuary has been looking out for the care and welfare of donkeys and mules for over 50 years and have all the information you are looking for.

Based at our headquarters in Devon, we cover a wide range of journalist enquiries about our work here in the UK.

Our media team are happy to provide you with stories, quotes, images and video footage, as well as expert spokespeople selected from our teams around the world.

Biggest threat to donkey welfare

Donkeys in pen waiting slaughter

The trade in donkey skins, in both its legal and illegal forms, is resulting in a chain of welfare issues for the donkeys at every step, from sourcing to transport and finally slaughter.

These issues can’t be ignored - the donkeys' welfare and their real value supporting people’s livelihoods is at risk.

Find out more about the donkey skin trade.

Our media team

Liam Creedon, Head of Communications
+44 (0) 7870 849563 | liam.creedon@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Simon Horn, PR Officer
+44 (0) 1395 204072 | simon.horn@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Catherine Rice, PR Officer
+44 (0) 1395 573155 | catherine.rice@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Contacting our media team out of hours

Our media team are available Monday-Friday, 8.30am - 4.30pm, excluding public and bank holidays.

Looking for images?

We can provide journalists with images from our media library. Please send an email to our media team.

Charity information

About The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary is the world’s largest equine welfare charity. Our vision is a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued.

We run 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to more than 7,000 donkeys and mules.

Our hospital treats sick donkeys and trains vets both nationwide and worldwide.

We have a team of Donkey Welfare Advisers around the UK, Ireland and Europe who respond to welfare concerns and support donkey owners in the community. 2,325 donkeys and mules are in private homes through our Rehoming Scheme in the UK and Europe.

We operate programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin.

Our history

Dr Elisabeth Svendsen founded The Donkey Sanctuary over 50 years ago in 1969. The charity has grown from rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse to an international animal welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for a living.

Why donkeys matter

Donkeys matter in their own right. They are intelligent, loyal and affectionate animals. Donkeys also carry out an important role in helping some of the most vulnerable communities around the world.

500 million people in the world’s poorest communities still rely on working donkeys as a lifeline to support their livelihoods.

Donkey welfare

We work in collaboration with other charities such as World Horse Welfare, RSPCA and Redwings to enforce legislation regarding donkey care and welfare.

Our work involves early intervention and support with castration, microchipping, passports, hoof, dental and parasite treatments, providing education and putting them in contact with professional service providers.

We provide training and support for owners with our free donkey care courses that are held in venues around the UK.

All donkeys in our care are considered for rehoming. Donkeys with serious conditions will remain in our sanctuaries for life where we can provide expert professional care.

Centre of excellence

The Donkey Sanctuary is home to leading donkey researchers, vets and scientists and the world’s only purpose-built donkey hospital. In 2019, 337 donkeys were treated at our hospital, including 176 surgeries.

Global work

In direct response to the global outbreak of Covid-19, an emergency fund to help working donkey and mules owners in Africa, Asia and the Americas who are struggling because of the coronavirus outbreak has been launched. Working with partners and international development organisations, this fund is to meet immediate needs. Already, grants have been awarded to Send-a-Cow in Ethiopia and to Innovar y Compartir in Peru for example.

To focus on more long-term global interventions, new and renewed partnerships have been developed. For example, we have extended our 10-year partnership with Animal Nepal, to support working equids in brick kilns and we have formed a new working relationship with ActionAid in Ghana to improve the welfare and sustainability of donkeys supporting women’s livelihoods in Upper West Ghana.

Advocacy work

Through our advocacy efforts, we remain important partners in Eurogroup for Animals, as well as sitting on the EU-UK Animal Welfare Taskforce. Globally we formed the Working Animal Alliance at the UN bringing together governments, NGOs, UN Departments and other partners to show how crucial donkeys and mules are to a sustainable world and why their health and welfare are so important. We are also partners with the Ethiopian government; we are working with them to develop a national equine strategy.

We chair the International Coalition for Working Equids (ICWE), the official contact with the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health). ICWE not only works with the OIE to improve welfare standards but also works collaboratively at the UN and other fora to improve the lives of donkeys, horses and mules. Our ICWE work has included assisting when there are serious outbreaks of disease such as the recent incidence of African Horse Sickness in Thailand.

Donkey skin trade

Donkeys are in a state of global crisis with the animals facing population collapse across a number of countries as traders target their skins to export as an ingredient for ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine. Our latest report into the trade, Under the Skin Update, has found that local donkey populations have crashed in a number of countries as increasing demand for ejiao has led to an unsustainable number of donkeys being slaughtered.

Our work to halt the global skin trade continues at pace. Our skin campaign is currently focusing on four clear objectives:

  • Exposing how donkeys are being used to conceal illegal wildlife trade
  • Leveraging biosecurity risks to human and animal health from the skins trade
  • Promoting a solution to the manufacturers of ejiao (the product made with donkey skins) demonstrating how they can use collagen from a cellular-agriculture (non-donkey skin) alternative
  • International/national governmental engagement to increase the numbers supporting our campaign.

We remain the driving force behind the growing opposition to the skin trade. Our goal is that no donkey or person suffers in the name of ejiao production.