Donkey rescues in Spain

Our sanctuary in Spain - El Refugio del Burrito - has rescued thousands of donkeys in need since 2003. Sadly, with abandonment cases on the rise, your help is needed more than ever to support their vital work.

Pedro in his stable
Pedro is just one of the donkeys that El Refugio del Burrito have provided sanctuary for.
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Help us to keep caring for Spanish donkeys and mules in urgent need of rescue.


Pedro's story

When staff members received a distressing call from a member of the public about an abandoned donkey, they rushed to administer life-saving treatment to poor Pedro. He was clearly terrified, shaking his head and thrashing around while tied to a tree, with no water or shelter from the blazing Spanish sun. On closer inspection, staff were horrified to find he had grossly infected wounds on his back that were plagued by flies, maggots and wasps. He also had a scarred and deformed jaw from the use of a ‘perrillo’ - a cruel metal halter used to control equines - that had repeatedly pierced his sensitive skin.

Thankfully, following immediate emergency treatment from one of our vets and a further two weeks of intensive care at our Spanish sanctuary, Pedro's infections were brought under control. Thanks to your support, our wonderful staff members in Spain have restored Pedro to the playful, merry character that he had never previously had the chance to be. His personality has utterly charmed the vet who helped at his rescue; soon, he will move into a forever home with his vet, where he can spend the rest of his life surrounded by love and care.

Pedro enjoying cuddles with Spanish staff member
Pedro's healing back wound
Groom checks on Pedro's jaw wound
A shoulder to lean on: not only is Pedro now a relaxed, loving young donkey (as this photo clearly shows), but his previously life-threatening wounds are healing fantastically well.

With your help we can keep reaching donkeys like Pedro

Flor's remarkable recovery

When we first met Flor back in July 2018, she was in a terrible state - described by staff as "the saddest looking donkey they’d ever seen". Chus Moreno, communications officer who was on the scene, recalled that "she had virtually no hair, her skin was infected, her body covered in wounds and crawling with flies. She came to us easily and quietly, allowing us to put the harness on and came into the van without any problem, as if she knew we were there to help."

Six months later, Flor is a different donkey. Her sore, bare skin is now almost fully covered with a soft new coat, and her listless, sad eyes are now bright and alert. It's rare to spot Flor these days without seeing her best friend Leia. Leia, discovered tied to a fence with no food, water or shelter, also suffered from skin problems (severe dermatitis) and painful wounds. According to grooms, the two are inseparable and completely "in love." Thanks to your support, these kindred spirits can enjoy spending the rest of their lives together at our peaceful sanctuary.

Flor and Leia with groom Fernando
Hairless Flor
Flor in recovery with hair regrowth
Flor is almost unrecognisable from the state in which we found her - in no small part due to the friendships she has made with grooms like Fernando and donkeys like Leia.

A turn-around for Margarita

Margarita was one of 26 famished animals found in the hands of a group of Portuguese travellers, known as ciganos, who were engaged in the illegal trafficking of animals. Once we had seized the 27 year old mule, it was clear she was in need of urgent medical treatment. She had osteoarthritis in her legs and was severely malnourished, yet her painful broken teeth needed to be removed in order for her to eat and regain her health. Margarita was terrified of attempts to help her - she would shake and urinate on herself out of stress when our vet tried to examine her.

“She was so afraid of humans, but now she is slowly starting to trust us,” says communications manager Rosa Chapparo. Margarita is still nervous when meeting people who she doesn’t know, and will take herself off to the safety of the herd amongst the olive trees. But thanks to your support, Margarita has the rest of her life to gently overcome her psychological trauma. Now she has put on weight and found comfort with the rest of her herd, she is slowly coming around to her new human friends, who have all the patience that Margarita deserves after her hard life.

Margarita head close-up
Margarita attached to a cart
Margarita in much improved body condition
After a hard life of graft and little love, Margarita is blossoming in her forever home at our beautiful Spanish sanctuary.

In order for us to be there for mistreated and abandoned donkeys in Spain, we need your help.

The number of donkeys like Pedro, Flor and Margarita reported to the sanctuary in Spain has been increasing since 2012. The team are often overwhelmed by the amount reported within the summer months. Now, more than ever, we need your support to allow our team in Spain to prepare for the inevitable increase in rescue cases that will occur over the course of the year.