A loveable pair of donkeys called Coco and Will are two of the newest arrivals to The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth after the charity stepped in to help a struggling owner who couldn’t put a roof over their heads.

When our welfare team received an enquiry to assist with a donkey castration, an initial check was carried out to make sure the donkey was being kept in the right environment which was meeting all of his health and happiness needs.

No shelter

Will and his friend Coco had plenty of room to roam, graze and exercise, but according to their owner, they weren’t keen on using their shelter. Upon further inspection, it was clear to see why; the ‘shelter’ had no roof, there was no bedding, and the floor was thick with sticky mud.

The owner had assumed that the donkeys could be managed in with her horses, and when it became clear that wasn’t the case, she moved the donkey friends to a field of their own, unaware of how much donkeys rely on access to shelter from the elements, as well as an area of hardstanding to give their hooves some respite from the sodden paddock.

Coco and Will
Donkey called Will
Coco enjoying a roll

Sanctuary support

Will has a heart murmur, meaning any castration operation was not going to be totally straightforward. He needed clinical care.

With family commitments piling up, it became apparent to the owner that she wasn’t in a position to put the situation right and give the donkeys the care they needed. She made the difficult decision for any loving owner to sign over the donkeys over to The Donkey Sanctuary.

Full of character

Tamlin Watson, donkey welfare adviser, said: “Coco and Will are a lovely pair of donkeys. Coco is slightly nervous of sudden movements but is very sweet-natured. Will is a dear little chap, not stallion-like at all; he seems to be the carthorse of the donkey world, a really cuddly, friendly chap that just ambles around. When we arrived at their field Coco flew down to meet us while Will was oblivious to our arrival for some time!”

Donkeys are different

A recent study carried out by The Donkey Sanctuary shows that donkeys are less able than horses to adapt to colder, wetter climates, meaning they need additional protection. 

For any prospective or current donkey owners, we have a wealth of helpful guidance on owning donkeys which is available in the health and care section of the website.