At The Donkey Sanctuary in Birmingham we have been trying out new forms of enrichment to keep our donkeys stimulated, happy and healthy. Now the weather has got warmer and the donkeys have been grazing in the fields, our staff have tried out three new ways to give the donkeys novel and exciting tastes and smells in the fields.
The donkeys enjoyed slurping some water infused with flavoured teas. Contrary to expectation the peppermint flavour came out the least favourite! Not only did the donkeys turn their noses up at it, they then picked up the bucket and tipped the water everywhere! But the wild berry and the mint and liquorice flavoured water went down a treat. Many a donkey nose had little drips of coloured water where they had sampled these interesting new flavours.
As a special treat the donkeys got some hard plastic poles dotted about their fields covered in no added sugar apple sauce. It was delightful to see the donkeys standing side by side, licking the sauce off the poles and then off each other’s noses! A number of donkeys tried to pick the poles up and carry them off just for themselves, only to find that the poles were too slippery and that they had no choice but to share with their friends.
Donkeys are primarily foragers, loving nothing more than a hedge full of various leaves, brambles, nettles and grasses. So, in order to play on the donkeys’ natural love of foraging, the usual hay nets were filled with fresh bramble shoots. The donkeys spent a long time nibbling the leaves and shoots through the netting, mimicking the longer amount of time their ancestors would spend foraging in the wild. After hoovering up the few shoots that had fallen to the floor the donkeys were soon looking about for more!