1990s: Stepping ahead

The 1990s saw The Donkey Sanctuary build some of the programmes that are closest to its heart today.



Our work in the Americas takes root.

In 1991, Dr Svendsen was invited to the Caribbean Islands of Turks and Caicos at the bequest of their government in order to examine the situation of their feral donkeys. Donkeys that had once been used for Grand Turk island's salt industry were abandoned when its commercial viability collapsed. During the dry seasons, these donkeys were either dying from dehydration, or heading into the town to drink from the islanders' limited supplies of water. Discontented attitudes towards the government's proposal to ship the feral donkeys to Haiti for meat lead to The Donkey Sanctuary stepping in to create a more viable solution.

Feral donkeys were rounded up to a large, secure area, where funding from The Donkey Sanctuary enabled the animals to have regular access to food and water. Our work in the Caribbean has spread to islands including Barbuda and Bonaire.

1991 also saw the arrival of our 5,000th donkey - Jenny, who arrived into our care after two years of being locked in a garage.

Donkeys in Turks and Caicos 1990s
Turks and Caicos donkey
Turks and Caicos 2009
Feral donkeys roaming the islands of Turks and Caicos were given shelter, water and food to enable them to live in peace alongside their human neighbours.


Dr Svendsen is awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Glasgow.


The Donkey Sanctuary starts work in Egypt that will continue for decades to come.

5,000th donkey Jenny
Dr Svendsen receives and honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow
Dr Svendsen treats a donkey in Egypt
Important milestones of the 1990s: Jenny, the 5,000th donkey; Dr Svendsen's doctorate; and the start of our crucial work in Egypt.


A centre for donkey-assisted therapy is opened in Birmingham.

It is the first of its kind outside of the original sanctuary in Devon.

Adopt a Donkey begins

As a result of our new donkey-assisted therapy centre, 1994 also saw the start of a novel fundraising programme: Adopt a Donkey. Adopt a Donkey enabled donkey lovers around the country to get to know one of our adoption donkeys better, while helping to give financial support to our Donkey-Assisted Therapy programmes. Each donkey selected for the adoption scheme was enlisted to work with children with additional needs in our Sidmouth or brand new Birmingham centres. Some of our first adoption donkeys included: Tom Harrison, Daniel P, Dominic, Tapestry and Megan (Sidmouth), and Donk Dean, Pascoe, Dinky, Oscar and Charlie C (Birmingham).

Early adoption pack
Daniel P retirement party
Donk Dean
Our original adoption pack enabled supporters to adopt donkeys like Daniel P (pictured at his retirement party in 2010) and Donk Dean (who sadly passed away in 2015).

Celebrate 25 years of Adopt a Donkey

For just £3 a month, you could find your perfect match.


Hannigan's Farm opens in Ireland to enable The Donkey Sanctuary to care for more Irish donkeys and mules in need.

Today, The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland has over 1,800 donkeys and mules in its care, over 650 of which have been rehomed back into the community to Guardian homes.


The Russell statue is unveiled, named after the first foal to be born at the Sanctuary.


Our donkey-assisted therapy centre is opened in Leeds by Dame Thora Hird. Four more adoption donkeys are selected from the new centre: Rosie, Kelly, William D and Simon.

Happy donkeys at Hannigan's Farm 1996
Dr Svendsen with Russell Garden statue
1999 Leeds DAT centre opening
More key milestones: three happy donkeys at Hannigan's Farm in 1996; Dr Svendsen with Russell's statue; and the 1999 opening of our donkey-assisted therapy centre in Leeds.

The new millenium approaches...