Trip Start Mar 05, 2010
18Trip End Mar 13, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
We stopped at the office and a lovely woman greeted us and told us they have now over 400 donkeys but they weren't going to bother changing their sign because they were being forced to move. Part of their sanctuary is on airport land and the airport now wants the land back.
This lady had come to Bonaire to do some vacation diving and ended up staying as the supreme Donkey Mama. She loves her charges. Close to the office are the newer donkeys and the mommies and babies and donkeys in need of special care, including ones that they have just gotten because of abuse or distress or another reason for a wild donkey to come in out of the desert.
The main part of the sanctuary is a drive through pasture with about 350 of their donkeys in there and these animals are smart. You can buy some food from the office and go into the donkey drive but this is at your own risk because the donkeys know you have food and they stand and wait for you.
We got some food and headed in. She told us to put down our windows and the donkeys would stick in their heads to get some food. What she neglected to mention was that 4-20 would be waiting in a gang for you and all of them would try and stick their heads into the car and they wouldn't always wait for you to get the food to them but would just go as far as they could into the car. We loved it. It was so fantastic to have all these donkey heads in the window but we did have to watch out for teeth and be quick. NOT that they were trying to bite us but that they were overanxious to get to the food.
First it was hard to get into the donkey drive because you cross over a cattle grid where 10 donkeys are waiting on the other side and they don't want to move out of the way and give the advantage to any other donkey. You have to slowly, slowly, slowly nudge your car over the grid and into the mob. As soon as your window is on their side of the cattle grate, they have their heads in the window. You stop and feed a bunch of them and they are not polite or patient either. Then you try to move the car a little further into the drive and the donkeys are always moving with you and heads in the window the entire time.
Finally we had the car all the way into the donkey drive and are surrounded by about 30 donkeys and they don't much have patience for each other too. There is ear chewing, head butting, butt butting, shoulder shoving, teeth showing, neck nipping, and yes, a little bit of rear foot kicking too but not too much of the last. We feed this group some and then move on into the sanctuary to make the actual drive around it. As we inch our way through the group, the mob opens up to let the car move and then we are free of donkeys in front of us and move our speed up to about 10 kph. This is an easy speed for donkeys to match. Several of them start running with us and seem to enjoy the run.
As we move through the donkey drive, we come across various groups, all standing by the road, and we stop for each group. A good many times, several of the donkeys would be standing right in your way so there isn't a choice but to stop. As we move through the groups and get around to the back side, we realize there seems to be a donkey "hitchhiker". Remember all the old movies where the cute girl would be the one to stand by the road with her thumb out and her short skirt? The cute donkey stands by the road staring at you forlornly. As soon as you stop the car, that donkey comes to the car and then all his friends pile out of the bushes to also come to the car and get food. Just like the movies. The car stops for the cute hitchhiker and then all her friends pile out of the bushes and into the car for a ride also. These donkeys have been watching old movies.
Sad to say, we ran out of food before we got all the way around the donkey drive. The last several donkeys before we were out of food kept pace with the car all the way up to 25kpm. We gave our last bit of food to them and then rolled up the windows to get out of the donkey drive. As we got back to the cattle grid to get out of the drive, there was a car trying to get in and he wasn't near as eager to slowly work his way into the park. He backed up so we could get out and we still had to nudge this one donkey about 5 times to get him to move out of our way.
Once out of the donkey drive, we stopped at the office and she took us into the new donkey pen. These are donkeys that come to them injured in some way. Their latest acquisition was a lovely animal who had been whacked repeatedly on the hindquarters with a machete. Most of the animals in this section were quite shy and not really wanting to be pet but since she went with us into the enclosure, they accepted us. What was super nice about this group were the babies. There were 3 very young fillies in there with their moms and all of the baby donkeys are sooooo fuzzy.
The donkey sanctuary was a very good visit. They have a website, www.donkeysanctuary.com and you can go there to make needed donations for them as well. We left a donation when we left the park but it's well worth going to the website to give them some more help.