We are unabashed by our ever consuming obsession with donkeys. Several of our neighbors own them—one neighbor owns two miniature donkeys, Bonnie and Clyde, and another boasts a single donkey who zealously guards the most gorgeously picturesque flock of sheep—and we are unashamed to admit that we slow down a bit each morning when we drive to work to see them roaming splendidly in their fields like a sculptural menagerie. Our love of and commitment to these stunningly contemplative animals extends far beyond the fields in our area; through The Donkey Sanctuary we—along with other like-minded donkey lovers—are able to support to the support donkeys around the world.
A few years ago, the ARCANISA team was symbolically gifted one of The Donkey Sanctuary donkeys by a dear friend. Our team can attest that it is one of the most treasured gifts we have ever been given and, to this day, we eagerly await the updates on our beloved, donkey Timothy. We even hang his picture proudly in our office (continue reading to see a video of Timothy on his birthday!) This holiday season we encourage you to follow suit and support this incredible charity and these magnificent animals. In case you aren't immediately hooked on the idea of gifting someone a donkey this holiday season, allow us to share with you a bit about The Donkey Sanctuary and the extraordinary work they do.
Founded in 1960 by Dr. Elisabeth Svendsen, The Donkey Sanctuary arose from Svendsen's profound appreciation for these remarkably intelligent and independent animals. Beginning with her first donkey, Naughty Face, whom she purchased for £45, Svendsen embarked on a life committed to rescuing and advocating for donkeys. Following in the admirable and dedicated path of Dr. Svendsen, the Sanctuary now cares and advocates for donkeys that have been subjected to abuse, been overworked or made obsolete through industrialization, or are otherwise neglected.
"The Donkey Sanctuary has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse to an international animal welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for their livelihood. Today, we have 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to over 7,000 donkeys and mules, and we reach approximately 1.8 million donkeys and mules through our work in 35 countries worldwide." (1)
Working through their brick-and-mortar sanctuary as well as their rehoming, veterinary. research, education, donkey-assisted therapy, and advocacy programs, the dedicated staff at The Donkey Sanctuary has established themselves as a powerful and far-reaching force for good when it comes to protecting these too-often overlooked animals. Through the Sanctuary, hands-on treatment is provided for donkeys in need of care while advocates work with The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL), the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank to establish sustainable improvements to the lives of donkeys (1).
You may be asking yourself, "why should I care about donkeys?". It's a valid question—especially if you are in the unfortunate position not to live next to some of these epic creatures. For those of us living in industrialized capitalist societies, donkeys are rarely thought of outside of petting zoo pens and anhedonic children's book characters; however, in many parts of the world donkeys are invaluable, often essential, additions to daily life.
As the Donkey Sanctuary notes,
In rural areas, donkeys are often used in farming and as transportation: they pulls ploughs and carts, deliver goods to market, and collect water from wells. In urban areas, they are mainly used in construction, transport of people and goods, and refuse collection. By enabling their owners to participate in work, they boost economic capacity in a region. So much so that in Ethiopia there is a saying: ‘If you don’t have a donkey, then you are a donkey.’
The protection of these animals is as important to the livelihoods of millions of people around the world as it to the donkeys themselves. Donkeys are brilliant, compassionate, contemplative creatures who are more than worthy of our kindness and advocacy.
This holiday season, consider 'adopting' a donkey through The Donkey Sanctuary. There are a plethora of ways to get involved with and support the Sanctuary. Whether you choose to adopt a donkey, make a donation, purchase cards, clothing, or even reusable donkey-printed beeswax food wraps, your engagement with this incredible organization will undoubtably make a difference and bring a few incredible animals some much needed cheer!