Got a question to ask? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.

Coronavirus - Covid-19

We want to keep you informed about our response to the coronavirus outbreak. We have compiled the most common FAQs we receive regarding our response here.

Caring for your donkeys during the Covid-19 pandemic

If you are a donkey owner or Donkey Guardian worried about caring for your animals during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are still here for you. We have compiled some advice and guidance to help you continue caring for your animal throughout the pandemic.

Visit us

Our Sidmouth sanctuary remains fully open, and pre-booking is not required.

Our regional centres (Belfast, Birmingham, Ivybridge, Leeds and Manchester) are reopening to visitors at select times from Saturday 2 October.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, we are changing our opening times to weekends – Saturday weekly (from Saturday 2 October) and one Sunday a month (from Sunday 7 November). Learn more about our new visitor experience

There is an online booking system with limited tickets for morning and afternoon visits. The visit will remain free of charge but a ticket will be essential for you to gain entry.

The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth

Q: Do I need to wear a face covering?

A: For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary requests that you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas.

Q: Are you accepting group visits?

A: We will welcome group visits to The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth. For more information or to book your group visit, please call 01395 578222.

Q: Do I need to pre-book my visit?

A: Pre-booking is not required for The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth, but we recommend checking our website and social media pages for the latest information and updates before leaving home.

Q: Are you restricting the numbers of visitors on site?

A: No we are not restricting the number of visitors to The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth, but we are monitoring the number of visitors coming to the sanctuary on entry to the car parks.

Procedures are in place to manage visitor flow and react if crowding becomes an issue. Please rest assured that your safety and the safety of our staff and donkeys is our priority.

Q: Will you be taking visitors' details on arrival?

A: From 19 July, it is no longer a legal requirement for visitors over the age of 16 to comply with the Government's Test and Trace scheme. However, visitors still can check-in using the NHS Covid-19 app or by scanning the NHS QR code displayed at entry points.

Q: What are your opening hours?

A: The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth is open every day from 9am – 5pm, with last entry into the car park at 4pm and 4.30pm into The Kitchen.

All visitors are required to leave the sanctuary by 5pm, to allow our grooms time to complete their essential care of the donkeys. We appreciate in previous years' visitors may have enjoyed staying later, however due to Covid-19 our grooms are now working early and late shifts to minimise contact with visitors. Thank you for your understanding.

Q: Will I still be able to see the donkeys when I visit?

A: Yes, all the walkways around The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth are open, providing plenty of opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys. Please DO NOT feed the donkeys; our staff carefully manage their diets to ensure they receive the appropriate food.

Q: What measures remain in place to keep staff and visitors safe?

A: A one-way route will remain in place in the heart of the sanctuary to maintain visitor flow around the sanctuary.1m floor markings will remain in queue areas.

We have a number of handwashing stations/sanitiser points located in key areas around the sanctuary.

Our staff will continue to wear appropriate PPE.

Tables in The Kitchen and picnic benches have been suitably spaced. From 19 July however, government guidance states that the'rule of six' or two households no longer applies when dining in the restaurant.

We have hygiene screens at the tills in The Kitchen and gift shop.

We have introduced enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the day, which seek to disinfect high frequency touch points.

We have marked out parking bays so you can park and disembark safely.

Q: Can I visit my adoption donkey?

A: Yes, all the walkways around the sanctuary are open, allowing plenty of opportunities to visit your adoption donkey.

Q: Can people catch coronavirus from donkeys?

A: There is no evidence that people can catch coronavirus from donkeys.

Q: Can donkeys catch coronavirus from people?

A: There is no evidence that donkeys can catch coronavirus from people.

Q: Is The Kitchen restaurant open?

A: Yes, The Kitchen is open from 9am – 5pm (last entry 4.30pm), with breakfast served from 9am-10.45am, lunch from 11.30am-3pm and snacks, cakes and drinks available all day. Pre-booking is not required.

We offer the option of dining in the restaurant or you can purchase food and drink to takeaway and enjoy in our outdoor picnic areas. The relaxing of restrictions means visitors can now make their purchase at the counter rather than ordering at the table.

Q: Is the Gift Shop open?

A: Yes, the gift shop will be open from 9am - 5pm. For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary would kindly ask you to consider wearing face coverings in the Gift Shop. Please avoid touching anything that you are not intending to buy.

Q: Which indoor areas are open?

A: Most indoor areas and facilities are open, except Main Barn, Dr Svendsen's Hut and the Video Room which remain closed at this time.

Q: Which outdoor areas are open?

A: All walkways around Slade House Farm and Trow Farm (not Trow Offices will be open providing plenty of opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys. Please DO NOT feed the donkeys, their diets are carefully managed by our staff to make sure they receive the appropriate food.

The Play Area will also be open, but The Maze and Hermitage Woods will remain closed at this time.

Q: Why is The Maze closed?

A: The Maze remains closed at this time due to its enclosed nature, but we will continue to review our approach going forward.

Q: Why are the Hermitage Woods and the Nature Centre closed?

A: This area is closed due to ash dieback. We will comply with Natural England best practices and treat 300 trees in this woodland. As part of our conservation strategy we will also be planting new trees at a number of our farms.

Q: Can I visit the Field of Dreams?

A: Yes, the higher section is open for visitors to enjoy, but the scattering of ashes is by appointment only. Please call us in advance on 01395 578222 to arrange this.

Q: Can you show me the new map of the site?

A: Yes, please find our full map here.

Q: Will you be running an activity trail for families?

A: Yes, our new trail, An Adorably Curious Adventure will run from 17 May – 30 September, providing lots of family fun while visiting. The full details are available here.

Q: Can I bring my dog?

A: Yes, dogs are welcome at The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth, but they must be kept on a lead at all times. Please note, dogs are welcome in the restaurant but please keep them under your table and out of the walkway at all times.

Q: Do you accept cash?

A: Yes, although cards are the safest payment method for you and our staff.

Q: Will you be resuming donkey experiences?

A: Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we do not plan to resume donkey experiences for the foreseeable future. We understand this is disappointing, but the safety of our visitors, staff and donkeys is our top priority.

Regional Centres

Q: Why do I now have to book an appointment?

A: Due to the smaller size of the teams that work within our regional centres, the safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers is paramount. The booking system allows our centres to operate within their maximum capacity numbers for COVID security, aligning with local government recommendations in response to the changing situation. It also allows for a more personal experience for on-site visitors.

Q: What if I do not have access to the internet or relevant device to book online?

A: If you do not have access to the internet or a relevant device to book online, you can telephone the regional centre you are interested in visiting. They can book an appointment for you if one is available.

Q: Do I have to pay to book?

A: Booking and entrance into all our centres is free of charge. As our charity relies purely on the generosity of the public, you are more than welcome to contribute a donation while you are visiting the site.

Q: Can I book to come every weekend, or a morning and an afternoon slot on the same day?

A: Please be aware that the number of appointment slots is limited. To ensure that the booking system remains fair and that everyone gets a chance to see our lovely donkeys, please do not make repeat bookings covering consecutive weekends or two slots on the same day.

Q: Do I have to book an appointment for a child?

A: Appointments need to be booked for children five years and over. Children under five do not require an appointment. Children over the age of twelve can be booked as an adult. We welcome pushchairs on site.

Q: What if I cannot attend my appointment?

A: If you cannot attend the appointment you have booked, please cancel it by calling the centre you wish to visit. As you will appreciate, appointments to visit our donkeys are in high demand, so by cancelling an appointment you cannot attend, you are freeing up this slot for other supporters.

Q: Do I need to print off my booking confirmation?

A:You will need to provide proof of confirmation of your booking. If you cannot print your booking confirmation, please have your confirmation email ready to show a member of staff on your phone. If you are unable to book online and you do so by phoning the centre, we will provide you with instructions about how to verify your booking upon entry.

Q:What measures are in place to keep staff and visitors safe

A: Our centres have one-way routes in place to maintain safe visitor flow around site.

We have a number of hand sanitiser stations located in key areas around the site.

Our staff continue to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

We have introduced enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the day, which seek to disinfect high-frequency touch points.

Our booking system allows for the number of visitors on site to be managed in a safe Covid-19 way.

We politely request that visitors do not visit the sanctuary should they start displaying any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19, including a high temperature or a new, continuous cough.

For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our volunteers, The Donkey Sanctuary requests that you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas.

Q: What can I expect from my visit?

A: As always, our staff will be on hand to talk to visitors about the donkeys, including those on the adoption scheme. Visitors will have the chance to see the different areas in which the donkeys live, learn about how we care for them, discover the dynamics of the herd and get answers to all questions that they may have about our donkeys.

Q: Are dogs allowed on site?

Belfast- Dogs are not allowed on site.

Birmingham - Well-behaved dogs are welcome on site but they must be kept on a lead at all times. However, please note there is no access for dogs in the refreshment serving area.

Ivybridge - Well-behaved dogs are welcome on site but they must be kept on a lead at all times. However, please note there is no access for dogs in the refreshment serving area.

Leeds - Well-behaved dogs are welcome on site but they must be kept on a lead at all times. However, please note there is no access for dogs in the refreshment serving area.

Manchester- Well-behaved dogs are welcome on site but they must be kept on a lead at all times. However, please note there is no access for dogs in the refreshment serving area.

Q: Are there toilets on-site?

A: All of our centres have toilet facilities on site, including disabled access toilets.

Q: Do you offer on-site parking?

A: All our centres have on-site parking. Please be aware that there may occasionally be local access restrictions to cars at some centres. This will be highlighted on the booking system, but if you are unsure please contact the centre you wish to visit for more information.

Q: Is your site accessible for wheelchairs users?

A: All of our centres are wheelchair accessible, including our toilet facilities. The majority of our paths are flat to allow full access around the site. For any specific questions about disabled accessibility, please contact the centre you wish to visit for more information.

Q: Are there any refreshments?

A: Our centres provide light refreshments, such as a selection of hot and cold drinks and snacks.

Q: What do I need to wear when I visit?

A: It is advisable to check the weather on the day you are visiting and come prepared (warm clothes in the winter months!). Wellies are not required, as our visitor areas are not muddy. All of our centres have indoor visitor spaces if the weather is inclement.

Q:How long can we stay when we visit?

A: We have allocated two-hour time slots per appointment to allow plenty of time for visitors to explore the site, see the donkeys and enjoy refreshments if they wish. We ask visitors to arrive no more than 15 minutes before or after their appointed time to allow for entrance and parking, and to leave promptly at the end of your appointment to allow for cleaning in between slots to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

Q: Can I come in if I arrive early?

A: Please aim to arrive no more than 15 minutes earlier than your appointed time slot. Our staff carry out several donkey welfare tasks in the morning, such as feeding, cleaning and health checks, so will not be able to let you in before your appointed time.

Q: What happens if I arrive late?

A: We understand that everyone experiences delays. Please contact the centre you are visiting to let them know if you think you may be late for your appointment. We hope you understand that because our time slots are in place to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines, we will not be able to extend your appointment. The gates to the site will be shut during your visit to ensure that capacity numbers are managed.

Q: Do I have to wear a mask when I visit?

A: For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our volunteers, The Donkey Sanctuary requests that you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas, unless medically exempt.

Q: Why did your Sidmouth site open earlier than your other sites?

A: We were pleased to be able to open our Sidmouth headquarters earlier this year because we have larger teams who work with our donkeys at the site. Our regional centres in Belfast, Birmingham, Ivybridge, Leeds and Manchester have significantly smaller teams, which meant we weren’t able to open these sites at the same time as having to work under very robust Covid-19 protocols. We want to make sure that our donkeys receive the highest standards of care and that our team and visitors are protected, which we are now able to achieve at our regional centres.

Q: Are you still doing group visits for children?

We will not be offering visits to children’s groups before the October 2021 half term. For specific enquiries about group bookings such as these, please contact the centre you wish to visit for more information.

Q: Is there a gift shop?

A: We have gift shops on site that reflect a selection of the products sold through our Online Shop.

Q: Will I be able to see my adoption donkey?

A: Every centre has at least two adoption donkeys. You’ll be able to see your adoption donkey as part of their herd, where the staff will be able to talk to you about your adoption donkey’s history, characteristics, antics... everything that makes them who they are. Our adoption donkeys are always treated as part of their wider herd, so please understand that you are coming to see our whole herd of donkeys, of which your adoption donkey is a part.

As such, we do not bring adoption donkeys over to adopters individually, as we respect their freedom of choice to move around the fields. All animals benefit from having choice in their day-to-day routine and giving donkeys freedom to roam lets them choose a way of engaging with their environment that suits their needs best, whatever their character. If your adoption donkey is not in view, more often than not they will appear as they move within their environment if you wait patiently. We have done all we can to make sure visitors have access to as many viewpoints as possible, but we thank you for your understanding that, with animals who have freedom of choice, not every donkey will be in view all of the time.

Q: Can we bring food for the donkeys?

A: Please DO NOT feed the donkeys. Their diets are carefully managed by our staff to make sure they receive the appropriate food. This also includes hand-picked grass. You are welcome to bring a selection of donkey treats (please see the area of our website describing safe treats for donkeys here). Our staff will receive your kind food donation and incorporate it into the donkeys’ carefully controlled diets.

Q: Can I stroke the donkeys?

A: If the donkeys come over to the fence where you are standing, then of course feel free to stroke them. Be aware that some donkeys can be shy about having their ears and facial area touched, but they often like to be stroked and scratched on their back and their shoulders. Please follow advice from the staff on site – they know the donkeys very well. Please make sure you wash your hands after interacting with any of the donkeys.

Donations

Q: How can I donate?
A: The Donkey Sanctuary receives no government funding, so your donations are absolutely vital to our work. You can donate to The Donkey Sanctuary online or by cheque (made payable to “The Donkey Sanctuary”).

Q: If I donate, where does my money go?
A: When you donate, your money helps us to look after over 6,000 donkeys living in our ten sanctuaries across the UK and the rest of Europe, and provide those in need with all the help they need. Without you help, donkeys like Tommy and Timmy would be subjected to a lifetime of cruelty. Your money will also help to fund various projects that help to improve the lives of donkeys and people worldwide, as well as vitally important work like our Under the Skin campaign. If you would like more in-depth information about how our donations are spent, please take a look at our report and accounts.

Adopt a donkey

Q: How do I adopt a donkey?
A: Adopting a donkey is a fantastic way to help support our donkeys. It couldn’t be more simple - you can adopt a donkey online.

Q: What’s included in the adoption pack?
A: Your adoption pack will contain two beautiful portraits of your brand new friend, four postcards, a certificate and a membership card.

Q: Will my adoption pack differ if I buy it from one of your shops?
A: If you choose to take the adoption pack away with you on the day, it will be exactly the same as those ordered online, however we will be unable to personalise your certificate. If this is an issue, our shops can arrange for your personalised pack to be sent through the post.

Q: Can I adopt a specific donkey?
A: There are 22 wonderful donkeys across the UK available for you to adopt. We have the perfect match for you or a loved one – there are shy ones, fun-loving ones, brave ones and gentle donkeys, all waiting for you to adopt. Why not take a look at our adoption list?

Q: How much does it cost to adopt a donkey?
A: It costs just £3 a month or £36 for the year to adopt a donkey. The average cost of keeping a donkey is now a staggering £2,000 a year. Your money will be used to help with feed, bedding and medical bills among the many other costs of providing a safe home for our donkeys.

Q: Can I visit my donkey?
A: Yes, if your donkey lives at our Sidmouth sanctuary. All the walkways around the sanctuary will be open, allowing plenty of opportunities to visit your adoption donkey.

Q: How long will my adoption pack take to arrive?
A: We know you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of your adoption pack, but please allow up to 14 days for UK delivery. International deliveries may take longer. In the meantime, why not take a look at the Adopt a Donkey Facebook page?

Q: Has my payment gone through?
A: If you adopted online, you should have received an email confirming payment. Do get in touch if you have any issues – you can complete our online contact form or call our team on 01395 573133 between 8:30am and 4:30pm on weekdays.

Q: Can more than one person adopt each donkey?
A: Due to the nature of our adoption scheme, it’s important to allow multiple people to adopt each donkey. The scheme is a vital way of raising funds to support the donkeys in our care, as well as our work and projects worldwide. Restricting adoptions to one adopter per donkey would vastly affect the amount of money we could raise through the scheme, and would also weaken the experience of those who have chosen to adopt.

Q: How is my donkey?
A: You can find regular updates on all our adoption donkeys over on our Adopt a Donkey Facebook and Twitter pages. Make sure you also keep an eye out for the next issue of Stable News, our adoption newsletter.

Q: Can I adopt from abroad?
A: Yes. We welcome adopters from all over the world to our wonderful adoption family. If you adopt online, your adoption pack will be sent directly to your address.

Q: Can I adopt in a foreign currency?
A: Yes. If adopting from a foreign bank account, the equivalent adoption fee will be taken at current exchange rates. However, please note that you can only adopt by Direct Debit from a UK bank account.

Q: I’m adopting as a gift – can the initial adoption pack be sent to me?
A: Yes. You will have the option to buy as a gift when you adopt online. Just follow the instructions once you add your donkey to the basket, and we’ll make sure you receive the adoption pack ready to wrap. All future correspondence will then be sent to the adopter’s address.

Q: Can I see my donkey on a webcam?
A: There are eight webcams available to watch across our main sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon. You might be able to spot Ruby and Bonnie in Main Barn, Timothy, Walter, Hannah and Cocoa in Shelter 1, Ashley and Zena in Shelter 4 and Millie in Shelter 6.

Donkey care

Q: How do I look after my donkey?
A: You can find plenty of important information you’ll need about looking after your donkey in our Donkey Care Handbook. Factsheets about various areas of donkey care are also available online. If you have a specific enquiry, please complete our online contact form . If your enquiry is urgent, please contact your vet.

Q: What should I feed my donkey?
A: Advice on donkey nutrition is available in our Donkey Care Handbook. Nutrition and feeding information is also available online.

Q: Can you advise me on my donkey’s health?
A: If you have concerns over your donkey’s health, always consult your vet. If you would like some advice over a non-urgent matter, please complete our online contact form.

Q: How much land do I need to keep a pair of donkeys?
A: We would recommend that you need a minimum of one acre of land to keep a pair of donkeys.

Q: How much does it cost to keep a pair of donkeys?
A: The average cost of keeping a pair of donkeys could be in the region of £2,000 per year. Elderly donkeys or those with health problems could cost considerably more. We recommend that new donkey owners attend our Introduction to Donkey Care training course to learn more about the responsibilities that come with owning a donkey. For more information, please take a look at our cost of owning a donkey guide.

Q: How can I prepare for the winter?
A: It’s important to prepare and plan ahead for the winter. As a donkey’s coat is not waterproof, proper shelter must be provided. It’s best to remember that winter care is about helping your donkey withstand the lower temperature and stay healthy, rather than shutting them away completely. Advice on how to properly care for your donkey through the colder months of the year is available on our winter care factsheet.

Q: Should my donkey wear a rug?
A: Young and healthy donkeys are unlikely to need a rug in the winter as their coat will naturally thicken as daylight hours shorten. Old or sick donkeys, however, may struggle to maintain body heat during the colder months, and a rug as well as other measures should be considered. You can find more information on our winter care factsheet.

Q: Can you recommend a rug supplier?
A: For advice on where to buy any of your donkey supplies or equipment, it’s best to contact us.

Welfare

Q: Can I relinquish my donkey?
A: If you currently own or care for donkeys or mules and are having problems, please contact our welfare team who will be happy to discuss your circumstances and how we might be able to help. In an emergency, our duty donkey welfare adviser can be contacted out of office hours on 01395 573043.

Q: Can I have an update on my relinquished donkey?
A: If you would like an update on your relinquished donkey during the new arrivals period, please call our admissions team on 01395 578222, or email admissions@thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk

Once this period is complete and you have been notified that your donkey has moved to one of our farms, please contact our farms admin team on 01395 578222 for any updates.

Q: Can I visit my relinquished donkey?
A: You are more than welcome to visit donkeys by appointment once they have completed their settling in period and moved away from the new arrivals unit. You can arrange your visit by calling our farms admin team on 01395 578222.

Q: Can I report a donkey in distress?
A: If you are concerned about the welfare of a donkey in the UK, please contact our welfare team or call 01395 578222.

General

Q: Can I rehome a pair of donkeys?
A: If you feel that you could provide a loving home for a pair of rescue donkeys and have at least an acre of land to spare, take a look at our Rehoming Scheme for more information.

Q: Do you have any vacancies?
A: If you are interested in joining us, check our current vacancies online.

Q: Do you offer work experience?
A: Yes. Take a look at our work experience page for more information.

Q: Can I volunteer?
A: We’re always looking for enthusiastic people to contribute to our work. As long as you’re over 16, passionate about donkeys and have regular free time you can offer us, we’d love to hear from you. Take a look at our volunteer opportunities.

Q: Can I organise a fundraiser?
A: Yes. To get started with your fundraiser, please register your details with our team. Once completed, you’ll be able to download our fundraising pack, full of useful ideas and information to make your fundraiser one to remember.

Q: Can I take part in The Donkey Sanctuary Weekly Lottery?

Yes. Providing that you are over the age of 18, you can take part in our Weekly Lottery. Please head to our Weekly Lottery website for full details

Q: Do you accept food donations?
A: No. Due to Covid-19 all our sites are temporarily closed to the public, meaning any apples, carrots or ginger biscuits for our donkeys cannot be dropped off at any of our locations.

Q: Do you accept used postage stamps?
A: Yes. If you would like to send us your used postage stamps, pop them in an envelope addressed to: The Donkey Sanctuary (Used Stamps), Sidmouth, Devon, EX10 0NU.

Q: Do you have an online gift shop?
A: Yes. Take a look at our fabulous range of donkey gifts for all the family in our online gift shop.

Q: Do you ship abroad?
A: Yes, although a postage charge of £10 will be added for gift shop orders shipped to Europe, and a £20 charge for orders shipped to the rest of the world.

Q: What do the donkeys’ collars indicate?
A: Our different coloured donkey collars indicate the gender of our donkeys and whether they require any additional care. For more information, take a look at our handy collar guide.

Q: What is The Donkey Sanctuary’s policy on breeding?
A: We have a strict no breeding policy at The Donkey Sanctuary. If it is safe to do so, all stallions that come into our care are castrated before being allowed to live alongside mares. However, as we will never turn away a donkey in need of a home, we do take pregnant mares and foals into our care.

Q: Why can’t I see any donkeys on the webcam?
A: Most of our webcams only overlook part of our donkeys’ paddocks, so the donkeys won’t always be in frame. Keep a look out though – they’re not always so camera shy!

Q: Why isn’t the webcam working?
A: Until recently, Flash was the main means of delivering live video over the web into your browser. As is always the case with technology, eventually things move on and Flash is no longer the go-to multimedia app for the web – the world has already begun moving to HTML5, a new standard for web pages, interactivity and video playback.

We have put together a webcam troubleshooting page which hopefully will help our webcam visitors in resolving the issue they are having where their PCs, tablets and mobile devices are not seeing any of the webcams.

(Updated: 20/09/21 11:14 BST)