A couple of days ago, a delightful email arrived in my inbox from the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary outside the small village of McGregor. In July last year, during a long weekend in the mountains near McGregor, we had spent an afternoon at the sanctuary (blog post) – and the donkeys stole our hearts. As invariably happens with most visitors, I should think.
As a result, we promptly adopted a gorgeous, furry-haired, long-eared donkey. Or perhaps he adopted us? Well – he walked right up to us, nudged Richard in the chest and began to nibble at his shirt buttons… and then, while Richard cradled his head ever so gently, he blissfully closed his eyes and sighed.
Honestly, how could you possibly resist such charm?! Just look at him…
We discovered that his name was ‘Donkey‘, after ‘Donkey’ in Shrek, whom he resembles down to a T. Well, apart from the personality; Shrek-Donkey is faaar too chatty, pushy and opinionated. ‘Our’ Donkey is quite the opposite: mellow, laid-back, well-behaved. Of course. 😉
Quite smitten by the donks, we invited two good friends to join us on an outing to Eseltjiesrus in October last year, for a beautiful and stirring St Francis Day and Remembrance Ceremony at the sanctuary. They too were smitten. And we were very happy to spend some quality time with the donks.
In February this year, when mom-in-law Lissi came to stay with us for a week, and we had an absolutely whirlwind week with her, we drove out to Eseltjiesrus to introduce her to Donkey.
Although we couldn’t spend much time in the paddock, because two recently adopted youngsters were causing quite a stir (!! – and you definitely don’t want to get in the way of a charging herd of donkeys!), she did meet Donkey, and fell in love with him too.
Now, as part of our adoption deal, we receive a twice yearly report, which was attached to the email we received a couple of days ago. I hope the people at the Sanctuary don’t mind, but I shall quote it in full below, because it made us feel sooo proud and gooshy and glowy inside:
“Donkey’s life at the Sanctuary gets more and more interesting each year! He is now in his prime physically, in perfect condition and fit and well. He enjoys playing games with the other young males and this gives him good exercise.
Recently we acquired two young donkeys in the Sanctuary. After they spent a few days in a separate field with Bella and Spokie, we allowed a small group of “volunteers’ from the main herd to come through and join the new ones. Donkey happened to be near the gate when this happened and he came with the others, but without his mom Dinky! This was the first time in his life that he had been separated from her. The novelty of the newcomers exceeded any anxiety he felt, and he spent a week with them without seeming to miss his mom at all. When the whole herd re-united after this, Dinky and he did greet each other for a while as though catching up on news, and then dispersed into the group as usual.
Donkey appears to be very confident, but only when his friends are nearby for moral support. When he met the newcomers, he became almost coy! One of the new ones is a rather pushy filly, and Donkey wasn’t sure how to handle this. He behaved impeccably and took care not to get in her way. The behaviours in a herd structure are extremely interesting, with each donkey showing its own unique character.
He spots any camera immediately and loves being photographed. He could be a model for any donkey advertisement! He is maturing into a well-mannered and responsible member of the herd, showing respect to the oldies but enjoying life with his younger friends. Thank you for helping us to care for him.
Annemarie van Zijl“
“He spots any camera immediately and loves being photographed” – OH YEAH! Sooo true!
So do yourselves a favour and take a drive out to the Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary near McGregor. If you visit on a weekend, there are usually guides on duty, who will take you into the paddock to meet the donks up close and personal. The guides are excellent and very knowledgeable, and clearly adore the furry Long-Ears too! What a treat!
Previous posts about the sanctuary:
- 28 Jul 2010: A visit to the peaceful Eseltjiesrus donkey sanctuary
- 02 Aug 2010: Our donkey adoption certificate has arrived
- 6 Oct 2010: St Francis Day and Remembrance Ceremony
- 28 Feb 2011: Looking back on a whirlwind week in Cape Town
- And you can download the sanctuary’s most recent newsletter here