It’s not just humans who missed contact with each other during Covid lockdowns donkeys are lepping around as soon they see visitors arrive at a recently reopened sanctuary.Donkeys are very social animals and it’s quite clear they missed the interaction with the public. They are used to human interaction and love to be petted. They’ve shown a lot of enthusiasm for people arriving, Laura Foster, the country manager for the Donkey Sanctuary charity said.The countrywide charity cares for more than 1,200 donkeys at a number of farms in the North Cork area.
It has just reopened its only publicly accessible sanctuary in Liscarroll, Co Cork, where staff have seen its 135 donkey residents perk up no end.
Such is the demand from the public that the sanctuary is booked out for visits nearly every day.
Ms Foster pointed out that during lockdown, the number of people who adopted donkeys soared. It costs 25 a year to do this, which is badly needed because the charity requires about 4m a year to run its services.
A lot of the people who adopted them are now naturally desperate to see them. The donkeys get a lot of attention when these people visit and you can see the donkeys missed that.
“Prior to Covid, we opened the sanctuary 364 days a year. Now we’ve reopened to start with for three days a week, from Wednesdays to Fridays. We’re operating a booking system to regulate numbers visiting the site. We’ve been inundated with requests and we still have a waiting list every day, Ms Foster said.
The Donkey Sanctuary in Liscarroll. File picture: Andy Gibson
Bookings can be made through Eventbrite, or the sanctuary’s social media channels.
Ms Foster said like many charities, it’s had some difficulties raising money during lockdown. The sanctuary doesn’t charge an entry fee, but the charity asks people to either adopt a donkey or donate what they can. Occasionally, it gets money left in wills.
It’s nice that people remember us in that way. But we’re always looking at ways to raise money, she said.
Ms Foster said the sanctuary is working on creating “virtual visitor experiences and has come up with a lot of ideas to enhance the visitor experience which it plans to enact in the next year or two.
The charity has also 650 donkeys fostered out to 320 guardian homes and has donkey welfare teams dotted all over the country.