We want to keep you informed about our response to the coronavirus outbreak. Here are the answers to some of the most common FAQs we receive.

The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth will reopen to the public on Monday 17 May 2021.

Visitors can expect a return of the sanctuary’s high-quality visitor experience, but with some Covid-19 measures still in place to keep visitors, staff and donkeys as safe as possible.

The Kitchen, Gift Shop and more of the indoor attractions will be open, as well as greater access to the wider walks around the sanctuary providing plenty of opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys. The Play Area will also be open, but The Maze and Hermitage Woods will remain closed at this time.

We very much look forward to welcoming visitors and supporters back to the sanctuary and would like to thank everyone for their continued support throughout the pandemic.

We will be providing an update on opening our other public-facing centres across the UK, Ireland and Europe soon, so please keep an eye on our website for updates.

Visiting our sanctuaries

When will you be reopening?

The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth will reopen to the public on Monday 17 May 2021.

When will your other sanctuaries reopen to the public?

We will be providing an update on opening our other public-facing centres across the UK, Ireland and Europe soon, so please keep an eye on our website for updates.

Do I need to pre-book my visit?

Not at this time, as we are confident we can provide a safe and enjoyable experience based on our capacity and the number of visitors we expect to have.

However, we may reinstate online booking if we consistently reach peak capacity and managing demand becomes difficult.

Also, a decision will be made post May half term as to how we approach the peak summer holiday period.

Please continue to check our website and social media pages for the latest information and updates ahead of your visit.

Are you restricting the numbers of visitors on site?

We will be monitoring and managing the number of visitors coming to the sanctuary on entry to the car parks, but with greater access to the wider sanctuary increasing our capacity, we are confident we can provide a safe and enjoyable experience based on the number of visitors we expect to have.

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.

Will you be taking visitors’ details on arrival?

We ask all visitors over the age of 16 to comply with the Government’s Test and Trace scheme, either by checking in using the NHS Covid-19 app or by scanning the NHS QR code displayed at all entry points. It is obligatory that you provide your contact details when dining at The Kitchen.

These details will be held securely in line with our privacy policy and deleted after 21 days. Please see our Privacy Notice for Coronavirus Test and Trace.

How can I provide my details if I do not have a smartphone?

For visitors without smartphones, data may also be collected via The Kitchen restaurant’s till system. These details will be held securely in line with our privacy policy and deleted after 21 days. Please see our Privacy Notice for Coronavirus Test and Trace.

What are your new opening hours?

The sanctuary is open every day from 9am – 5pm, with last entry into the car park at 4pm and 4.15pm into The Kitchen. The Kitchen, Gift Shop and Shelter’s walk close at 4.45pm.

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.

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

Yes, all the walkways around the sanctuary 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.

What are you doing to keep staff and visitors safe?

A one-way route will be in place in the heart of the sanctuary and The Kitchen to ensure social distancing is maintained. 1m floor markings will remain in queue areas. Please look out for the clear signage around the sanctuary and adhere to these measures.

We have introduced a number of new hand hygiene stations / sanitiser points. Our staff will be wearing appropriate PPE.

Tables in The Kitchen and picnic benches have been arranged to make sure distance between seated parties and are limited to 6 people. Please do not move tables or share tables with anyone not in your group.

We have installed 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.

From 17 May, government guidance states that the ‘rule of six’ or two households applies indoors and gatherings of under 30 people are permitted outdoors.

We will continue to review our approach as and when further relaxations are made by the government.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

As per government regulations, you will be required to wear a face covering indoors, including the Gift Shop, The Kitchen (not when seated at your table), all indoor attractions and toilets, unless you are exempt from doing so. There are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others.

Will I be able to visit my adoption donkey?

Yes, all the walkways around the sanctuary will be open, allowing plenty of opportunities to visit your adoption donkey.

Can people catch coronavirus from donkeys?

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

Can donkeys catch coronavirus from people?

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

Is The Kitchen restaurant open?

Yes, The Kitchen will be open from 9am – 4.45pm (last entry 4.15pm), with breakfast served from 9am-10.45am, lunch from 11am-3pm and snacks, cakes and drinks available all day. 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. Table service is provided for those dining in, with dogs and buggies now allowed at tables. Pre-booking is not required.

It is obligatory that you provide your contact details when dining at The Kitchen. These details will be held securely in line with our privacy policy and deleted after 21 days. Please see our Privacy Notice for Coronavirus Test and Trace.

Do I need to pre-book a table at The Kitchen?

We do not require you to pre-book a table at The Kitchen.

Is the Gift Shop open?

Yes, the gift shop will be open from 9am - 4.45pm. You will be required to wear a face covering unless exempt from doing so and please avoid touching anything that you are not intending to buy.

Which indoor areas will be open?

In addition to The Kitchen, Gift Shop and toilets, the Visitor Centre, Exhibition Barn and Understanding Donkeys Zone will also be open. Main Barn, Dr Svendsen’s Hut and the Video Room will remain closed at this time as we are unable to provide a socially distanced solution in these areas. We will continue to review our approach as and when further relaxations are made by the government.

Which outdoor areas will be open?

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

Why is The Maze closed?

The Maze remains closed at this time as we can’t provide a socially distanced solution in this area. We will continue to review our approach as and when further relaxations are made by the government.

Why are Hermitage Woods and the Nature Centre 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.

Can I visit the Field of Dreams?

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

Can you show me the new map of the site?

Yes, please find our full map here.

Will you be running an activity trail for families?

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.

Can I bring my dog?

Yes, dogs are welcome at the sanctuary 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.

Will you be accepting cash?

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

Are you accepting group visits?

As we re-open The Donkey Sanctuary Sidmouth following the national lockdown due to Covid-19, we have made the difficult decision to temporally suspend all bookings of large groups until the autumn. The coach lane will remain closed to allow visitors additional space to walk.

We will keep our website updated with details of when we’re in a position to welcome groups back to The Donkey Sanctuary.

Will your other centres reopen to the public on Monday 17 May

We will be providing an update on opening our other public-facing centres across the UK, Ireland and Europe soon, so please keep an eye on our website for updates.

Donkey welfare

Can I still call if I am concerned about the welfare of a donkey?

As we adapt to the situation and most recent government guidance we have had to make significant changes to the way we work to keep each other safe and still reach donkeys most in need of our help.

Our welfare office team is now working from home but we are still on hand to provide advice and discuss any donkey welfare concerns you may have.

Our team of Donkey Welfare Advisers will review any welfare concerns reported to us and respond accordingly.

Action

If you are concerned about the welfare of a donkey or mule in England, Scotland or Wales please get in touch.

You can complete our online checklist or alternatively, call our welfare advice line on 01395 578222 Monday-Friday 8.30am-4.30pm to speak to our experienced welfare team.

If your concern is an emergency and falls outside our normal office hours you will be directed to our emergency help line.

Advice for donkey owners and Donkey Guardians

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. Please read our specific guidance on what you can do to help your donkeys and mules if you self-isolate or become unwell.

Adopt a Donkey

If I adopt a donkey, will I still get my adoption pack in the post?

Yes. Thank you so much for adopting a donkey, you will still receive your adoption pack in the post. We aim to get this to you within 14 days of receiving your order.

Will I still receive updates about my Adoption donkey?

Yes. We are currently still able to send out updates about our adoption donkeys. Remember to follow Adopt a Donkey on Facebook and Twitter to see regular updates from all of our adoption donkeys.

I’ve just renewed my adoption; will I still receive my new portraits?

Yes. Thank you so much for renewing your adoption for another year. We are still able to send you your new portraits. We aim to get these to you within 14 days.

I pay for my adoption by Direct Debit, will I still receive my new portraits on my anniversary?

Yes. Thank you so much for adopting a donkey by Direct Debit. We are still able to send you your new portraits following the anniversary of your adoption. We aim to get these to you within 14 days.

I paid for my adoption with a one off payment, will I still receive a reminder when it’s time to renew my adoption?

Yes. Thank you so much for adopting a donkey. If you paid for your adoption with a one off payment we will send you a reminder to renew when your adoption is due to expire. Don't forget you can always renew your adoption online.

Can I still visit my adopted donkey?

Due to the UK wide Covid-19 lockdown our sanctuaries are temporarily closed to visitors and service users.

Where is Ruby?

Ruby has moved to Shelter 1 with her friend Wonkey. Ruby prefers flatter ground so she is moving now before the Main Barn herd are let out onto the hilly Weston Valley. The fields and sand rolling area at Shelter 1 are flat, so this shelter is better suited to Ruby’s needs. There is a webcam at Shelter 1 and Ruby can easily be spotted as she will be the largest donkey in the group.

Can I still see Ruby when the site reopens?

Yes, when visitors return, she will be in a field so close and personal you will easily spot her. Shelter 1 is very close to the visitor car park and easily accessible to visitors with a public footpath running alongside her field.

Donations

Will you be processing my recent postal donation?

Yes. Postal donations will be processed, however, we have a smaller than usual team onsite, so there may be a delay in the processing.

We kindly ask that you consider donating online for the time being. This will mean that the money reaches us straight away and it will not need to be manually processed.

Online Shop

I have received a gift catalogue, can I still send in my order?

Yes, we are able to process gift catalogue postal orders.

What has changed for EU deliveries?

You can still place an order on our Online Shop. However, please note that you will be required to pay additional import duties and taxes when your order reaches your country.

As a consequence of Brexit, from 1 January 2021 all shipments to the EU are sent DAP (Delivery At Place). This means that any eventual import duties and relevant taxes are charged upon arrival in the destination country.

EU customers are no longer charged VAT on purchases through our Online Shop.

Will you be processing my recent postal order?

Yes. If you have any queries about your order please send us an email.

(Updated: 11/05/21, 10:57 GMT)