Covid-19: Protecting our visitors, staff and donkeys

The health, safety and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and donkeys is paramount at The Donkey Sanctuary and is the overriding factor in our decision making.

During these continuing unprecedented times we have introduced a range of measures that seek to reduce the risk associated with the presence of Covid-19 that are in line with government advice and the requirements of our local health authority.

Some of the measures set out below may be clearly visible to you across the sanctuary, others require consideration and cooperation before visiting to help ensure that everyone has an enjoyable but safe visit.

Before you arrive

  • For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary request you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas.
  • Where possible, we are asking visitors to make payment using a 'contactless' bank card, rather than cash
  • We politely request that you DO NOT visit the sanctuary should you start displaying any of the symptoms associated with Covid-19 including a high temperature or a new, continuous cough
  • Please check our website and social media pages for the latest information and updates.

On arrival

Visitors will notice information signage informing them of key safety messages. Please also wash/sanitise your hands on arrival.

We kindly ask that you adhere to and respect all the instructions given by our team members.

During your visit

Please make regular use of our hand washing and sanitiser stations situated throughout the sanctuary. As with our staff, we politely request that all visitors uphold the highest possible hygiene standards.

For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary request you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas.

A one-way route will remain in place in the heart of the sanctuary to maintain visitor flow around the sanctuary.

1m floor markers remain in queue areas to help visitors keep a safe distance from one another.

Tables, chairs and picnic benches have been suitably spaced. From 19 July however, government guidance states that the ‘rule of six’ or two households no longer applies when dining in.

Visitors can either choose to dine in at The Kitchen (subject to table availability) or purchase refreshments to takeaway and enjoy in our outdoor picnic areas. Only refreshments purchased from The Kitchen can be consumed inside the restaurant; please use the picnic areas if you wish to consume food and drink you have brought with you.

Hygiene screens will remain at our service counters in The Kitchen and Gift Shop.

We have introduced enhanced cleaning measures throughout the day, which seek to disinfect high-frequency touch points.

Our team has participated in Covid-19 specific training programmes instructing how to keep you and our staff safe.

Avoiding infection during your visit

Visiting our sanctuary is an enjoyable experience for many people, particularly children. However, such visits can never be free from all risks.

While donkeys do not present as much risk as farmed animals, we want your visit to be safe as well as enjoyable. Watch our video before you visit us for advice on how to stay safe.

After your visit

We value all feedback which we will use to inform developments at the sanctuary, so please do let us know how we did during your visit. You can leave us a review in the following ways:

We hope these measures provide you with the confidence to visit The Donkey Sanctuary. These are unprecedented times for everyone, and while every effort is being taken to protect the safety and wellbeing of our visitors, staff and donkeys, everyone should inform themselves of the risks, conditions and personal responsibilities before deciding to visit.

We thank you for your support and understanding and, above all else, hope you have a great donkey day out.

Frequently asked questions

What are your opening hours?

The sanctuary is open every day from 9am – 5pm, with last entry into the car park at 4pm and 4.30pm into The Kitchen.

All visitors are required to leave the sanctuary by 5pm, to allow our grooms time to complete their essential care of the donkeys. We appreciate in previous years’ visitors may have enjoyed staying later, however due to Covid-19 our grooms are now working early and late shifts to minimise contact with visitors. Thank you for your understanding.

Do I need to wear a face covering?

For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary request you wear face coverings while using our indoor areas.

Are you accepting group visits?

We will begin welcoming groups back to The Donkey Sanctuary from Monday 6 September.

Pre-booking is essential. For more information or to book your group visit, please call 01395 578222.

Do I need to pre-book my visit?

Pre-booking is not required, but we recommend checking our website and social media pages for the latest information and updates before leaving home.

Are you restricting the numbers of visitors on site?

No, but we will be monitoring the number of visitors coming to the sanctuary on entry to the car parks.

Procedures are in place to manage visitor flow and react if crowding becomes an issue. Please rest assured that your safety and the safety of our staff and donkeys is our priority.

Will you be taking visitors’ details on arrival?

From 19 July, it is no longer a legal requirement for visitors over the age of 16 to comply with the Government’s Test and Trace scheme. However, visitors will still have the option to check in using the NHS Covid-19 app or by scanning the NHS QR code displayed at entry points.

What measures remain in place to keep staff and visitors safe?

A one-way route remains in place in the heart of the sanctuary to maintain visitor flow around the sanctuary. 1m floor markings will remain in queue areas.

We have a number of handwashing stations / sanitiser points located in key areas around the sanctuary.

Our staff will continue to wear appropriate PPE.

Tables in The Kitchen and picnic benches have been suitably spaced. From 19 July, however, government guidance states that the ‘rule of six’ or two households no longer applies when dining in the restaurant.

We have hygiene screens at the tills in The Kitchen and gift shop.

We have introduced enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the day, which seek to disinfect high frequency touch points.

We have marked out parking bays so you can park and disembark safely.

Will I be able to visit my adoption donkey?

Yes, all the walkways around the sanctuary will be open, allowing plenty of opportunities to visit your adoption donkey.

Can people catch coronavirus from donkeys?

There is no evidence that people can catch coronavirus from donkeys.

Can donkeys catch coronavirus from people?

There is no evidence that donkeys can catch coronavirus from people.

Is The Kitchen restaurant open?

Yes, The Kitchen will be open from 9am – 5pm (last entry 4.30pm), with breakfast served from 9am-10.45am, lunch from 11.30am-3pm and snacks, cakes and drinks available all day. Pre-booking is not required.

We offer the option of dining in the restaurant or you can purchase food and drink to takeaway and enjoy in our outdoor picnic areas. The relaxing of restrictions means visitors can now make their purchase at the counter rather than ordering at the table.

Is the Gift Shop open?

Yes, the gift shop will be open from 9am - 5pm. For the safety and reassurance of our staff and our visitors, The Donkey Sanctuary would kindly ask you to consider wearing face coverings in the Gift Shop. Please avoid touching anything that you are not intending to buy.

Which indoor areas are open?

Most indoor areas and facilities are open, except Main Barn, Dr Svendsen’s Hut and the Video Room which remain closed at this time.

Which outdoor areas are open?

All walkways around Slade House Farm and Trow Farm (not Trow Offices) will be open providing plenty of opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys. Please DO NOT feed the donkeys, their diets are carefully managed by our staff to make sure they receive the appropriate food.

The Play Area will also be open, but The Maze and Hermitage Woods will remain closed at this time.

Why is The Maze closed?

The Maze remains closed at this time due to its enclosed nature, but we will continue to review our approach going forward.

Why are the Hermitage Woods and the Nature Centre closed?

This area is closed due to ash dieback. We will comply with Natural England best practices and treat 300 trees in this woodland. As part of our conservation strategy we will also be planting new trees at a number of our farms.

Can I visit the Field of Dreams?

Yes, the higher section is open for visitors to enjoy, but scattering of ashes is by appointment only. Please call us in advance on 01395 578222 to arrange this.

Can you show me the new map of the site?

Yes, please find our full map here.

Will you be running an activity trail for families?

Yes, our new trail, An Adorably Curious Adventure will run from 17 May – 30 September, providing lots of family fun while visiting. The full details are available here.

Can I bring my dog?

Yes, dogs are welcome at the sanctuary but they must be kept on a lead at all times. Please note, dogs are welcome in the restaurant but please keep them under your table and out of the walkway at all times.

Do you accept cash?

Yes, although cards are the safest payment method for you and our staff

Will you be resuming donkey experiences when you reopen?

Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we do not plan to resume donkey experiences for the foreseeable future. We understand this is disappointing, but the safety of our visitors, staff and donkeys is our top priority.

When will your other centres reopen to the public?

We will be providing an update on opening our other public-facing centres across the UK, Ireland and Europe soon, so please keep an eye on our website for updates.

Can you show me a risk assessment?