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  • Writer's pictureJude

Volunteer at the donkey sanctuary in Antigua

The drive to the donkey sanctuary is a chance to carve through the undulating lush green landscape, visible from the pristine coastline that frames the island of Antigua.

Donkeys at the sanctuary

Come along and visit the animals at the sanctuary or better still, volunteer for a few hours. Karen and her team are clearly devoted to the animals' welfare at the Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society. The donkey sanctuary here is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-3 to the public. It is home to approximately 100 donkeys, some tame, others not. Cats and dogs that have been abandoned or injured reside here too.

Donkey Sanctuary

Donkeys are brought to the sanctuary having experienced something traumatic, perhaps an accident or abuse. Each day begins with Triple Crown, a fragrant food given to horses as it is easier to chew - and wow how they love it. Watch the donkeys excitement as it arrives, nudging others to secure a spot around the bathtubs where the food is placed.

Donkeys feeding at Antigua's donkey sanctuary

Later they are fed fresh grass which they seem to devour for hours. Visitors should wait patiently for donkeys to finish feeding before attempting to brush their coat as they become territorial while eating. They are very interesting animals to watch, stubborn, intelligent and each with its own individual personality.

Donkeys eating grass

Around three quarters of the donkeys at the sanctuary are not tame. They are kept securely in a different field for now and it is hoped that at some point in the future they may also be moved to the area that is accessed by visitors.

Some of the donkeys are in a recovery pen. They may be healing following surgery or currently have injuries. The small group of donkeys here are able to dine together with more space so they are not kicked and pushed about by other donkeys while trying to secure a spot to eat. One of the donkeys in this pen was found tied up by one of his hind legs which resulted in the hoof having to be removed surgically. He is healing well thanks to the love and kindness of all who work here. He is a gentle creature in spite of the horrific injury.

Donkeys recovering from injury or surgery at Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary

Rosie the goat

Rosie is a goat, a goat that believes she is a donkey. Daren, a key worker/manager here explained how she grew up with them. She follows them and jumps in their food to share it. She is watchful of newcomers to the team, presumably protecting her fellow friends.

Cats at Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary

Two cats roam the sanctuary, including Deputy. Well, on arrival he was meant to be the deputy but has assumed the role as the boss.

Resident cat at Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary

The cats being looked after here come out for play time. Care is taken to allow them time out of their enclosure to mix with other cats they have a bond with.

Resident cat at Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary

Rehoming a cat or dog

Before being rehomed, the cats and dogs are nursed back to good health, vaccinated, wormed and free from ticks and fleas. Dogs are also microchipped.

Dogs at Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary

There are a number of dogs who are waiting to be re-homed of differing ages. Johnny is approximately 11 years old, an adorable dog who always appears to be smiling. Coco is around 5 years old, a lively dog who enjoys being. A litter of puppies recently arrived at the sanctuary and require homes too. Socialising them is an important task that is time consuming so volunteers can cuddle each puppy for 15-30 minutes at a time.

How to get involved at Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society

Currently the sanctuary is in need of extra water troughs and feeding equipment. Bath tubs are excellent for this. Some of the hotels donate old bath tubs to the sanctuary to help out when renovating so please contact Karen if you know of anyone who can help in this regard. Boosts of income have already been received from Rob Barrett and Elite Island Resorts.

The new surgery

Another exciting project that has just taken place within the sanctuary is to build a permanent surgery. It is largely complete but still needs some finishing touches.

Raising money

There are several ways to help raise money for this fantastic cause.

  • Purchase a souvenir from the sanctuary. Items include t-shirts, water bottles and books

  • Donate reading books which can be purchased by visitors from the on site library

  • Make a donation via the website

  • Adoption programs

Volunteering at Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society

By spending some time volunteering here, it is an opportunity to get involved in hands on activities to care for animals for a few hours. The abandoned or injured cats and dogs need socialising in preparation for rehoming, dogs need walking and donkeys need to be groomed. For those who wish to volunteer for longer and stay on site, a barn has been converted into basic accommodation. Contact the Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society  for details and to check availability.


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