After a year-long search to find a Guardian home, three donkeys at our Italian sanctuary made a cross-country trip to join their new family.

Our Italian sanctuary, Il Rifugio Degli Asinelli, is based in the woodlands of Sala Biellese, providing our donkeys with a peaceful life in the green alpine countryside.

Ciarli, Rolinda and Battistina arrived at Il Rifugio in 2015 from Val di Susa. They arrived closely bonded and always stayed together. Even though they made lots of new friends at the sanctuary, their bond to each other remained the strongest - a true testament to donkeys' lifetime bonding.

After four happy years at the sanctuary, the time was right for them to be rehomed. Talking about the search for a Guardian Home, Francesca Dai, one of our Donkey Welfare Advisers, says: "We spent more than a year trying to find the right Guardian family able to give the donkeys love, passion and the optimal location."

The search for a Guardian home eventually came to an end when Francesca and Donkey Assisted Therapy Coordinator Laura Benzi identified the perfect family for the three donkeys. There was only one obstacle. The new home was on the other side of the country.

Never deterred in their mission to do the best for their donkeys, Laura and Francesca began the process of getting the donkeys ready to go on a long journey.

They dedicated many hours to training the donkeys at Il Rifugio, including a week training them to load, unload and spend time on the trailer to make them feel comfortable and safe. The team also helped prepare the family for their new arrivals through virtual visits.

Laura and Francesca then embarked on the trip with the three donkeys, travelling 394 miles from the west of Italy to the east. Speaking about the journey, Laura says: "We spent a total of 16 hours travelling, including frequent stops to give water, hay and a lot of cuddles to the donkeys. At the end of the adventure, we were exhausted but really happy to be part of that magic moment."

Upon arrival at their new home Ciarli, Rolinda and Battistina began investigating their new surroundings, with Francesca noting: "right after unloading, Ciarli, Rolinda and Battistina started to explore their new paddock and tasting the local grass...the emotion was priceless!"

The group are now cared for by a fantastic Guardian family, who are rewarded with affection by the bucket load.

Donkey Guardians are essential to our work, providing dedicated care to our donkeys in a domestic environment. Being able to count on them for the care of healthy and well-behaved donkeys allows us to dedicate our resources mostly to our in-need resident donkeys at our sanctuaries around the world.