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Animal welfare science Dr Dolittle style!

Just like Dr Dolittle, I bet you talk to your animals and some of you may say your animals talk right back! Many of our fabulous staff and volunteers at The Sanctuary can be heard deep in conversation with their donkey friends – who are very good listeners! Up until a few years ago researchers would say such behaviour had no place in science. However, animal welfare science has come on in leaps and bounds in the last couple of decades and it is now accepted that, in order to find out what an animal likes and dislikes, one just has to ask. And how do we do this?

Donkey in barn

We're in!

Well, following on from our last blog we are all in and settling down to life at the new hospital. Desks have been unpacked and organised, the drug cupboard is stocked and locked, the theatre has been christened with our first surgeries (sarcoid removals and castrations), the stocks in the new examination rooms have been in use for x-rays, dentals and standing surgeries and the stables have been filled and emptied and cleaned as the donkeys have come and gone.

New hospital donkeys

We're on the move!

The time has finally arrived and the Veterinary Department are in the middle of moving from our old hospital buildings to the brand new, purpose built hospital at Brookfield Farm. This follows a lot of hard work by many people and many departments to coordinate movement of all the equipment, drugs, people and paperwork accumulated over the years!

Packing up

Life in the old donks yet

This is a tribute to donkeys (of course!), Donkey Welfare Adviser, Mark Kerr, and a fabulous Donkey Guardian. I had the great pleasure of visiting a guardian home in Mark's area recently. Mandy gave a wonderful home to Eddie and Toffee who had been lovingly trained until they were ready to go out to a forever home by our grooms. And that could have been the end of the story.

Tommy, Teddy, Toffee and Eddie

In Good Working Order

Did you know that all of the UK’s beach donkeys require, by law, an annual vet check in order to certify them as fit to work?

In the same way, The Donkey Sanctuary vets check all the donkeys working at our 6 DAT centres twice every year. Each centre has a local vet for any emergency calls but The Donkey Sanctuary vets each have a centre to oversee which provides continuity and direct communication points with the grooms plus the vets, farriers and dentists involved in the everyday care. This allows us to pick up any problems that might affect the donkeys, or their ability to work, early. As the work they do doesn’t exactly require much exertion (compare them to racehorses for example!), it is important to check for subtle conditions that may go unnoticed.

Chest auscultation

Adoption donkey Gareth loses his sight

Gareth - our gorgeous little donkey, with a personality way beyond his size, is now very sight impaired. We have been noticing that he is a little jumpy when visitors come to see him and even around the grooms that he knows and trusts. On examination he is now almost completely blind. Luckily, Gareth knows his way around his environment very well and we will always respect his need to live right where he is now with his pals.

Gareth the adoption donkey


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