Meet Roxy and Lola, a charismatic pair who have been making the most of the quieter months at Sidmouth while the sanctuary remains temporarily closed to visitors.

Roxy is a Shetland pony, who came into our care with her daughter Lola, a seven-year-old mule. Both have met the closure with a can-do attitude and are enjoying adventures around the walkways and tracks with their grooms, which would normally be bustling with people.

The pair came into our care in 2014, having previously been on loan to a city farm. Used to the attention of people, they moved from one of our outlying farms, which are not open to the general public, to enjoy the company of visitors at our headquarters in Devon.

While Roxy and Lola are undoubtedly looking forward to the return of visitors, the extended walks afforded by the temporary closure have been a welcome surprise. Not only do they improve their welfare, they can also enjoy extra enrichment browsing the paths and hedgerows along the way.

Looking after the mental well-being of our donkeys and mules is very important as it can affect both their physical health and behaviour. A frustrated or bored donkey can show reluctance to interact with us or may become dull and uninterested in life, which can lead to health problems.

If you own donkeys or mules, environment enrichment provides greater opportunities for your donkeys to interact with their environment, make choices and to be more mentally and physically active. Good enrichment is a mixture of changing the way we carry out routine activities like feeding and creating an environment that more fully meets our donkeys’ needs.