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Working worldwide - A voice for donkeys

Donkeys and mules and Barabanki Fair

News in brief

We are the world’s Voice of the Donkey. Not everyone appreciates or understands the crucial role that donkeys continue to play in modern society. By raising awareness of their needs and the extraordinary role they play supporting families and communities, we can raise their status and present a more complete picture of their incredible value.

Joining forces to boost campaigns

In November 2016, we became one of the newest coalition members for Asia for Animals, a group of 18 well-known and respected animal welfare organisations with a shared focus on improving the welfare of animals in Asia. The coalition helps to provide international campaign support for the activities of Non-Governmental Organisations working on animal welfare issues.

The coalition has a strong history of campaigning and lobbying and we hope that by working together, we can tackle welfare problems such as the emerging donkey skin and meat trade more successfully. Our research is continuing to reveal the staggering scale and demand for donkey meat and skins in China, and its threat to the global donkey populations and their welfare. This new partnership will play a key role in working together to address this new worrying trend that we are investigating.



In India, we provide vital veterinary care and community training to make life better for working donkeys and mules where there is a population of 69,000 donkeys and mules within our reach.

Education is the key in Barabanki

Community education sessions are a vital part of The Donkey Sanctuary’s work internationally.

At the Barabanki one of northern India’s largest annual equine fairs, they help spread good welfare messages to a large number of people (and thus reach equines) even in areas where we don’t have a direct presence.

The team’s hard work at Barabanki over the last five years has started yielding positive results, with larger numbers of owners from India and Nepal approaching them this year to request education sessions.

We were also told by fair organisers that there was a lot of positive discussion about our stall among owners.

Sanctuary sets up at Barabanki Fair

The Barabanki Fair, or the Dewa Mela as it’s also known, has been taking place annually for over a century to commemorate the Sufi saint Haji Waris Ali Shah.

Hundreds of traders and thousands of donkeys, mules and horses descend upon the fair grounds for a week of hectic trading, and an entire local economy springs up around them.

Many of the animals had travelled hundreds of kilometres in groups of 25-30 in trucks legally required to hold no more than six, without access to food or water during the journey. Others had walked the distance over several days.


We have been involved with donkey-related welfare issues in Spain since 1986. Successful lobbying has put a stop to several cruel events including the annual beach festival in Sanlúcar de Barrameda.

Justice for a crime of animal cruelty

A large-scale rescue began in June 2013 where around 40 animals were being kept in terrible conditions. The rescue team also discovered donkeys, mules and horses were being tied up for 24 hours a day. Their basic needs - food, water and shelter - were sparse and their hooves were very overgrown.

Our rescue centre, El Refugio del Burrito, filed a complaint of animal cruelty against the owner and immediately took into its care 13 donkeys and mules whilst the Easy Horse Rescue Centre, Alicante opened its door to the remaining horses.

In a letter from the Eurogroup for Animals addressed to the European Parliament and to the Agricultural Services of Alicante, concerns were expressed about this case.

El Refugio continued to campaign for the farm to be closed and in July 2016 won a lawsuit banning the owner from keeping animals for three years and sentenced to 9 months in prison.

All the donkeys and mules that we rescued in 2013 now have sanctuary for life at our rescue centre in Spain.