It's International Donkey Week! Find out what's happening at the Donkey Sanctuary

On Tuesday 6th May, animal welfare charity the Donkey Sanctuary launched its International Donkey Week in Sidmouth, South Devon.
The aim of the week is to focus attention on the worldwide plight of donkeys and how charities such as the Donkey Sanctuary can help their suffering. The charity provides veterinary treatments & education projects around the world helping to improve the treatment and welfare of the gentle donkey.  You can see an example of a UK donkey foal they've helped who was orphaned - read the story of Prince William here
Find out the Donkey Sanctuary helped this little orphan foal
Donkeys carry a heavy burden for people
Today, Wednesday 4th May, a double-decker bus showed the reality for too many donkeys overseas, as the charity compared an Indian donkey working in a brick kiln having to carry the same weight of 2 double-decker buses in bricks each week. So how do they work this out?  The charity explains:
"A family of donkey owners working in the brick kilns at Badli on the western border of the state of Delhi get paid per 1,000 bricks they make.   They aim to complete this number or more each day. The work involves moulding the bricks out of wet clay and sand, and transporting them by donkey to the firing kiln, which may be 1km or more away. Each 'wet' brick weighs around 3kg, and, depending on the number of bricks the donkey can carry, it may make 25 or 30 journeys to the kiln each day. As an example, a load of 50 bricks weighs 150kg (23.6 stone). Kiln labourers work six or even seven days a week. If they work six days and make their basic quota of 1,000 bricks a day, their donkey will have carried three metric tonnes of bricks per day, or 18 tonnes in a week. A double decker bus - unladen and without fuel - eighs 7.11 metric tonnes. Therefore a donkey carrying less than the average load will have ransported the equivalent of two buses, plus a few extra tonnes, during the week's work."
 How the Donkey Sanctuary helps Donkeys
Donkey Sanctuary Communications Manager Dawn Vincent explains, "Donkeys support some of the poorest people and communities on the planet. They will work until they drop in terrible conditions to carry desperately needed water and transport huge loads to make their owners a living. The weight of two double-decker buses is a way of putting their burden into perspective.
"We work hard to support these donkeys as well as the families that could not live without them, through mobile teams providing vet treatments and educational projects all over the world. International Donkey Week is a time to consider the donkey's plight and how charities like ours can help alleviate their suffering."  
The Donkey Sanctuary was founded by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE in 1969, and it's since given a sanctuary to more than 14,500 mules and donkeys in the UK, Ireland and Mainland Europe. It works in 29 countries around the world, with major projects in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Kenya and Mexico.
How donkeys help people
Donkeys around the world have various careers, helping to take children to school as a sort of taxi service, take tourists for rides, help on building projects transporting bricks and other equipment, being water carriers, collecting refuse, and working on farms. In the UK and Spain, donkeys from the Donkey Sanctuary are helping children with special needs and disabilities with donkey therapy, while some are visiting the elderly in care homes, hospices and other settings.

So what happens in International Donkey Week?
Some 300 supporters have gone to Devon for the week to visit the Donkey Sanctuary. They''ll find out about the Sanctuary's latest projects, and they can also enjoy visits to each of the seven farms in Devon and Dorset from Wednesday, where some 2,200 rescued donkeys and mules are cared for. A perfect week for donkey lovers!  Find out more about it here
How you can help the Donkey Sanctuary help donkeys
  1. Adopt a donkey
  2. Visit the Donkey Sanctuary in Devon
  3. Buy something from the online gift shop
  4. Foster a pair of donkeys
  5. Send a virtual gift to a loved one 
  6. Volunteer
  7. If you're a new donkey owner or thinking about owning a donkey, why not go on a donkey care course?
An Indian donkey working in a brick kiln carries the same weight of 2 double-decker buses in bricks each week.
Little donkeys carry a heavy load
Photo copyright of the Donkey Sanctuary