The Donkey Sanctuary’s founder, Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, has been named by the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) as one of 60 faces who have inspired, developed and advanced the veterinary profession over the last 60 years.

Dr Svendsen founded The Donkey Sanctuary in 1969. Since then, it 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.

BEVA launched the 60 faces campaign as part of its 60th-anniversary celebrations. The campaign explores the successes of the equine veterinary community over the past six decades by highlighting 60 individuals who have left an indelible mark on the equine veterinary profession.

BEVA members nominated hundreds of individuals, from which the Trustees made a final decision selecting 60 people as examples of those who have made an impact on the profession.

Dr Svendsen was awarded the MBE in 1981 for her services to donkeys and mules. She received an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery 1992, and in 2009 was awarded a degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Edinburgh.

David Mountford, CEO at BEVA said: “It was incredibly hard to select 60 people from all the worthy nominees we received. But Dr Svendsen had a huge impact on the life of donkeys around the world and as a consequence on the equine veterinary profession.”

Alex Thiemann, Senior Veterinary Surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “Dr S and her work have been a huge personal inspiration for me and countless other vets who love donkeys.

“The range and depth of her vision now inspire a global charity at the forefront of equid welfare. I had the privilege to know her and enjoy her company. She had a great sense of humour and huge work ethic, and ensured donkeys always came 1st, 2nd and 3rd.”

Dr Svendsen died in May 2011 aged 81, but her legacy continues through the work of staff and volunteers, at what is now the largest equine charity in the world.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care.


For interviews, images and information please contact The Donkey Sanctuary press office on 01395 573124 or 07970 927778 (including out of hours) or send an email.

Notes to Editors

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. Our donkey-facilitated learning programme helps vulnerable children and adults develop life skills by connecting with donkeys on an emotional and physical level. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin.

Please note that the name ‘The Donkey Sanctuary’ should not be abbreviated to ‘Donkey Sanctuary’, and the word ‘The’ should always appear with a capital ‘T’ as above.