A young donkey who lived a free-roaming life in the New Forest National Park, now has a secure future after she was brought into our care.

The three-year-old donkey, named Happiness, was part of a herd living in the national park, before being relinquished into our care.

The New Forest National Park covers southwest Hampshire and southeast Wiltshire, and is home to just a couple of hundred donkeys, compared to the thousands of ponies and cattle living there.

The donkeys are intentionally not handled to keep them away from traffic and to avoid them becoming too friendly with people, who may feed them. Although they roam freely, grazing and browsing hedgerows and bushes across the park throughout the year, they all have owners who are responsible for their care and health.

Happiness’ free-roaming lifestyle meant she was not used to being handled regularly, and on arrival at the sanctuary her behaviour proved challenging.

Donkeys thrive when bonded with another friend, so Happiness was introduced to a single donkey of the same age called Ralph. The pair soon became inseparable, and after going through their training together, found a new loving home for life through our Rehoming Scheme.

Slade House Farm Supervisor Rosie Baker explained: “Happiness and Ralph were fantastic donkeys. They took the training in their stride and seem to have loved every second of it, and although they were a bit worried about everyday items such as drains and grates to begin with, the more we did with them, the more their confidence grew.

“We have taken them on long walks around the sanctuary to get them use to seeing different things. They are so patient and gentle, and are eager to learn.

“When Happiness first arrived at the sanctuary she was difficult to get near to, so it is lovely to see her progress, and great to see them go to their new home.”

Donkey Guardians are essential to our work. The Rehoming Scheme helps to free up vital space in our sanctuaries for donkeys who require more specialist care.

Interested in rehoming donkeys?

Find out if you could be a Donkey Guardian