We're incredibly saddened to share the news that retired adoption donkey, Little Vijay, passed away earlier today aged 24.

Little Vijay had been suffering from arthritis for some time due to his old age. For a long while, our team were able to control his discomfort by offering pain relief medication, but as his condition deteriorated, this was no longer enough to ensure he was enjoying a good quality of life. On the recommendation of our veterinary team, the heartbreaking decision was made to allow Little Vijay a peaceful passing by gently putting him to sleep.

Little Vijay with his groom Marleen
Little Vijay laughing in the snow
Little Vijay at Donkey Week
Little Vijay spent 24 happy years at The Donkey Sanctuary.

A tribute to a real character

Maxine Carter, farm manager at Slade House Farm, has led tributes:

"Such a wonderful donkey – our little Vijay put the Eeyore in Eeyore! He could put on the most grumpy of faces one minute and then kick up his heels and dash off the next! We have looked after and loved this fuzzy faced donkey for 24 years and many of you adopted him prior to his retirement in 2015.

We have been watching him extra carefully for a number of weeks now as we had noticed that his movement was not normal and he really didn’t like having his limb joints manipulated. This is a very good test for arthritic change which affects so many older donkeys. While anti-arthritis meds were effective for a while they soon stopped hitting the spot and alternative medication did not help either.

We knew it was right to let Vijay go with grace and dignity before his pain overtook any pleasure he had in his life. Vijay was put to sleep while munching on his favourite ginger biscuits and being cuddled by the grooms who loved him so dearly. His pain has gone but our memories of Vijay will last forever."

Little Vijay out in the sun
Little Vijay celebrates his birthday
Little Vijay grazing
Thanks to your support, Little Vijay was given everything he needed to live a happy and fulfilling life.

Life at the sanctuary

Little Vijay was born at The Donkey Sanctuary in spring 1994. His mother, Rosemary, and her daughter had been relinquished to our Irish sanctuary in County Cork as their elderly owner could no longer take care of them. Some months later they were brought over to our Sidmouth sanctuary where, on 24 April, Rosemary gave birth to a colt foal; the 6,079th donkey to be in the sanctuary’s care. Our founder, Elisabeth Svendsen decided to name him Little Vijay in recognition of Dr Vijay Varma, a vet who helped donkeys in Kenya before The Donkey Sanctuary began work there.

Vijay has touched so many lives over the past two decades, from helping children with additional needs for many years at the donkey-assisted therapy centre in Sidmouth before his retirement, to meeting and greeting all the wonderful supporters who have visited him at his paddock. It's safe to say that this wonderful donkey has been a firm favourite among our visitors, and will be sorely missed for years to come.

Thanks to your support, Little Vijay was able to enjoy a happy and safe life at The Donkey Sanctuary, free from neglect and suffering. Your ongoing support ensures that thousands of other donkeys across the UK can be given the same level of care.

In memory

If you would like to make a donation in memory of Little Vijay, it will go towards helping other donkeys in need.