A stay on Bonaire would not be complete without a visit to the Donkey Sanctuary, just south of the small airport. It is a non-profit making organisation started by a Dutch couple in the early 90’s, to care for the many injured, sick and abused donkeys on the island. Donkeys were first introduced onto the island in the 17th century by the Spaniards, to be used for hard labour. Now modern transport has made these lovely friendly creatures redundant and they were left to fend for themselves. Many donkeys die from starvation, dehydration or road traffic accidents. The sanctuary not only provides help to donkeys in distress, it also tries to help all the wild donkeys on the island by providing education to local communities and schools. When we visited, the sanctuary had 400 donkeys in residence (over 160 acres) aging from 2 days to 40 years old. They pay for veterinary care, provide food and water, nurse motherless foals and castrate males to prevent reproduction.
First port of call was their mothers pen, they help mothers and foals together giving the foal a great head start in life, bottle feeding those without mothers and pairing them up with play mates. Lots of cuddles were in order here.
After lots of baby donkey cuddling, we hopped into the truck and drove around the sanctuary grounds, 160 acres of barren land with lots of feeding and watering stations scattered about. We had bought some carrots in the gift shop and had donkeys running alongside us ‘eeh orring’ for treats.
They have a lookout tower where you can view the sanctuary from above, we also had some cheeky donkeys trying to get into the truck!
The feeding truck was doing its rounds, we followed it around the park and watched as they even threw food over the fence to a small donkey outside the sanctuary. The workers are mainly volunteers, what a wonderful job they all do.