Every 2-3 years a research review is conducted to highlight major issues relating to donkey health and welfare. On identification of areas of need a ‘call for proposals’ is made approximately once a year (usually in the autumn) to raise interest amongst the scientific community.

Academic institutions are invited to put forward proposals for projects in the identified area of need.

These major projects are funded by The Donkey Sanctuary and allow us to utilise some of the best scientists and researchers working within other institutions. We can use their knowledge, skills and technical expertise to further increase our understanding of the donkey.

Funded projects are usually guided by one or more senior academics and often form part or all of a PhD, Masters or post-doctoral project for an external researcher. Major projects normally last 1-3 years, although in some instances follow-on funding is available to extend this if needed to improve application, or to investigate something of importance identified in the original project.

All research projects funded by The Donkey Sanctuary are expected to lead to the publication of research findings in peer-reviewed scientific journals and/or presentations at conferences. This will normally be expected to have occurred within 12 months of completion of the research.

We have a strict code of ethics that must be adhered to, the basis of which is that all work must be non-invasive. This means that we do not do anything to the donkeys that penetrates the body for the purpose of research. We will not take blood samples, biopsies or give injections etc for the purposes of research.

We do not allow animals to be separated from their companions for the purpose of research, or to make any other changes to their management that may cause distress. In addition to this, research will only be approved if the expected outcome and benefits to The Donkey Sanctuary or donkey population in general outweigh the time and resources spent.

We have a large residential population including a small number of horses, ponies and mules. We also have animals ‘in transition’, which are entering The Donkey Sanctuary through our isolation facility.

We keep thorough records for each animal in permanent residency and transition, and this forms a comprehensive database of information from which we can draw information used for many projects. We also have access to the records of animals in our Irish and European sites.

The Donkey Sanctuary always reserves the right to alter or terminate any project, under any circumstances, if it is deemed that the project has become unsatisfactory in any way or is compromising the welfare of donkeys.

Unfortunately we cannot accept unsolicited funding requests.

Want to know more?

Find out more about our research programme