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Impressions of my first visit to Mexico: Day 1

Monday 13th October

After an 11 hour flight from Heathrow, taking us over Ireland, the Atlantic, the eastern seaboard of the Unites States and past massive cumulus clouds boiling up in the hurricane zone of the Gulf of Mexico, we arrive, with the sun starting to set, onto Mexico’s high central plateau and the enormous metropolis of Mexico City. Vets Alfredo and Mauro, meet us and take us to where we will be staying. Alfredo is the team leader of one of four mobile teams in the Mexico project and Mauro is his veterinary assistant.

Venere and Holly find refuge in Italy

At 21 years of age, Venere is the oldest donkey currently being cared for at Il Rifugio Degli Asinelli, the Italian counterpart of the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary. She was rescued, along with a foal called Holly, from a donkey breeding centre in southern Italy, as both were in terrible condition and needed the Sanctuary's expert care.

Donkey-breeding centres are commonly found in Italy where there is a great demand for their meat. Venere was a donkey used solely to produce foals and it is not known how many years she was 'worked', according to staff at Il Rifugio.

A foot trim can go a long way...

During a live radio interview today with BBC Somerset's presenter Jo Phillips, we were talking about the contrast of the Sanctuary's work in Europe to overseas, particularly as I have just returned from a visit to our project in Egypt
The difference is this. In Asia, Africa and North America where our projects exist to help working donkeys, we simply can't rescue them. Men, women and even children absolutely depend on them. But rest assured, we do help in the most AMAZING way - we offer a kind of sanctuary from suffering instead...


Percy is our donkey statue who used to stand in the visitor car park but now stands close to the alongside our visitors' centre. He was originally sculpted by Lizanne Kempsell, who trained as an animal sculptor at art college.

The sculpture is a replica of the original which was commissioned by Mrs Anne Misselbrook, and was a portrait of her driving donkey, Percy.

The original was displayed as part of Lizanne's final year graduate show at Edinburgh College of Art.



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