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Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth

The main building at The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, Devon EX10 0NU: tel 01395 578222


Our grand-daughter was given the adoption of a donkey as a present. So, when in Devon for a break we were instructed to visit Millie.

We drove from Lyme Regis along a tree-lined route and did not know what to expect as we saw the brown sign for The Donkey Sanctuary and turned off the main coast road.

The extensive and well-filled car park gave a clue that this was not a few donkeys in a paddock visitor centre.

We found a space and sauntered towards the well-appointed visitor centre to ask where we could find Millie.

The welcoming hosts pointed us in the right direction as we noted that there are a lot of donkeys in the surrounding fields.

“Millie has an eye mask to keep away the flies,” she said. “Millie is the white one in with two other donkeys. And, by the way, Millie is a mule.”

We walked past the busy children’s playground and there she was. Millie undoubtedly has moods and she did not hang around to say hello.

She was more interested in annoying one of her fellow paddock dwellers. However, we took pictures and shot a video. Mission accomplished and our granddaughter was delighted.

We were intrigued by The Donkey Sanctuary. Dr Elisabeth Svendsen founded the society in 1969 after being appalled at the treatment of donkeys.

The most visible success is the donkeys living in the 50-year-old, award-winning sanctuary which boasts an exhibition barn, an interactive journey and an understanding donkeys zone.

Daily talks, demonstrations and tours are organised and there are scenic farm trails through the sanctuary and down to the sea.

However, the work of the activists is not only concentrated at Sidmouth. They also devote themselves to helping the 40-plus million donkeys living outside the UK.

So, if you are in the area pop in and have your eyes opened about the world of a donkey and by doing so donate to help sick, injured and abandoned donkeys.

PS: A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. Horses and donkeys are different species.

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