Saying a sad goodbye to our much-loved adoption donkey.

Donkeys are known for their stoicism, which means they don’t always tell us how poorly they are. But when you’ve known a donkey for as long as we’ve known 24-year-old William D, you soon learn to understand the signs that all is not right.

This week we have had to make the most painful and heartbreaking of decisions for this kind and loving donkey who was one of The Donkey Sanctuary Leeds’ founding members.

As one of the oldest donkeys in our herd, William had begun to suffer the common ailments of an elderly donkey and so we kept an extra close eye on him, ensured he had the very best veterinary treatment and plied him with our love and attention.

But, in the last few days his condition deteriorated quickly, and, with the advice of our expert vet team, William was gently put to sleep surrounded by his loving grooms and donkey friends. Needless to say, we are all devastated at his loss as I’m sure you are too.

William D


Throughout his life William was a fine advocate for the charity in his role as an adoption donkey – adored by thousands not only locally, but around the world.

Like many of the children who attend sessions here, William had a very challenging start in life, and like them he thrived here in our sanctuary in Eccup, near Leeds. You may recall a story we wrote last year about Alexander – now a young man, but once a timid little boy, Alexander found lasting friendship with William.

Our William, possibly because of his own trials – rescued by the sanctuary after being found starved and severely neglected – had an empathy with children like Alexander, and gave them a feeling of security and love in the haven of The Donkey Sanctuary. Alexander’s mother said that William was "instrumental in coaxing the frightened little boy... assuring him that it was OK to be himself and to be different".

Loved by all

So it was no surprise when William became the fourth donkey to join our Adopt a Donkey scheme, that this scruffy little fellow would steal the hearts of so many, young and old alike. Your incredible love and support for this little donkey for well over a decade meant that he was regularly inundated with messages, letters, cards and gifts telling him that he was always in your hearts and minds.

It was a very sad thing for us to have to do, but it was the right thing for this finest of donkeys, to spare him this one last battle. He will remain in all our hearts forever, a very special little man indeed. If you would like to donate in his memory and help donkeys who have suffered neglect just like him, please click the link below to make a donation.

Note for William D adopters

You have been such a kind friend to William D and we want you to continue to enjoy your donkey adoption experience. While we know no donkey could replace William, we will be introducing you to your new Leeds adoption donkey, Harbin, in a letter due out shortly. Like William, he suffered neglect in his early life and was discovered abandoned, wandering on a remote road in Ireland with seven friends. Now, he is a bright, curious donkey who just loves meeting people. You don’t need to do anything as your adoption will be automatically transferred over to Harbin.

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