I am fortunate in my role as HR Adviser - Europe to have the opportunity to visit some of the European projects. This is mainly to meet the teams and to ensure that we are legally compliant and all working from the same hymn book when it comes to processes.
Recently I visited Cordoba Zoo in Spain where our rescue centre El Refugio del Burrito runs a project providing donkey assisted interactions for children with additional needs. What an amazing experience!
The purpose of the visit to Cordoba Zoo was to introduce the staff and donkeys to a new cart and Burrito, a very handsome gelding, was chosen to make the first trip and I was given the job to keep him calm and still whilst the cart was being adjusted to fit comfortably.
I am ashamed to admit that apart from my lunchtime walks, I have spent very little quality time with the donkeys and my memories of my Stage 1 Donkey Care Course are fond but quite vague.
I was shown how to keep Burrito still by standing at his head, placing my hands on the inside of his bridle on either side of his head and whispering sweet nothings into his very large ears (I wasn’t asked to do this last bit but I felt that as we were standing so close to each other it was the least I could do!) After 5 minutes or so, his eyes began to close, his head appeared to get heavier and heavier and gradually dropped towards my feet. I thought "Oh no - he’s falling asleep!" (My husband admitted later that he knew exactly how Burrito felt!)
Thankfully, when the cart fitting had been completed, we were able to revive Burrito and he did his usual amazing job of taking the very excited children on a tour around the zoo. It was a unique experience, walking behind the cart, passing cheetahs, lions, elephants and monkeys (all caged of course) - an experience I won’t forget for a long, long time.
My heartfelt thanks go to the committed team at Cordoba - staff, volunteers and local students, who were very welcoming and tactfully accepting of my lack of Spanish, to my travelling companions who were patient with my lack of equine experience and particularly to Burrito who was a complete gentleman and listened uncomplainingly to my English babble!
HR Adviser - Europe