One thing we are always asked about while grooming the donkeys is about the plastic collars they wear and what the different colours mean.
The two main colours are red and yellow.
- Red for castrated boys or geldings.
- Yellow for girls or mares.
On these collars will be the name of the donkey, their current age and The Donkey Sanctuary admission number. The staff also like to customise them with lots of decorative hearts.
- White collars for boys or 'intact stallions'.
These are generally only used when donkeys come into our New Arrivals Unit. By the time we meet the new donkeys they will have been castrated and will be proudly wearing their new red collar! Occasionally a male donkey will have underlying health issues and the vets will decide it would be too risky to operate and castrate, so these donkeys come out of the New Arrivals Unit still wearing their white collar - and they will live with a group of male donkeys. (After all we don’t want to encourage the trip-trap of extra tiny hooves!)
Some donkeys wear two collars - their red, white or yellow collar plus one more.
- Green - indicates the donkey will be on one extra feed per day.
- Blue - two extra feeds per day.
- Black - three extra feeds per day.
- Orange - the donkey is on medication.
- Pink - the donkey has sight-problems or is blind.
Now you may ask: what happens if we have a female donkey (yellow) who is blind (pink), needs two extra feeds per day (blue) and is on medication (orange)? Does she wear all four collars? No.
Two collars maximum - or the donkeys will end up with necks like giraffes.
We get around this by using the red/yellow name collar and adding coloured bands. So our donkey would wear her yellow collar with a pink band and an orange band, plus her blue extra feeds collar.
The other question we're also frequently asked is: why are some donkeys not wearing any collars at all? Well we'll let you into a secret; one of our donkeys' favourite games is called "let's yank off as many collars as we can today!" It's huge fun and very popular, but possibly not as much fun as watching the grooms trailing around trying to fit them all back on again!
These plastic collars do not replace head collars and are not used for that purpose. They are also designed to snap when put under any pressure so that our donkeys remain safe.