Donkey Days Celebration! My interest was piqued when I saw an ad in the
paper showing there would be an open house held at a donkey refuge. I had read an article a few months ago and was curious about the refuge but this offered an invitation to come out and see the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge. Sounds like fun to me. Kamloops
The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge owners, Rob and Shirley have been rescuing donkeys from all over B.C. since 1999 but it is only in the last 3 years that they have been open to the public. They now have 29 donkeys live here on the 80 acres and the herd is growing as the accommodations allow.
The rescue donkey may come from a neglectful or abusive situation or may be submitted by an owner when they can no longer care for them, but most of them have health or other problems. The veterinarians will check them and put them on the right program to heal. Several have had to have dental care, which is done by a local vet who specializes in equine dental care. The farrier will tend to the needs of proper care of their feet and hooves, some donkeys have arrived having difficulty walking, due to poor foot care.
It is difficult to look at some of the photos that show what the donkeys looked like when they arrived but it must be very rewarding for those involved to see them after they’ve received lots of love and attention. Many donkeys arrive with issues of trust of humans after being abused and it takes a long time but with kindness and good care, and they have plenty of that here at Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, they do heal.
There were bands playing (we heard some great music), face painting as well as farrier and blacksmith demos, also informational lectures from the veterinarians that care for the donkeys. Volunteers with an imagination made some ‘donkey muffins’ that added to the fun and was part of the fundraising.
The rainy weekend did not put a damper on the festivities of the Open House. We saw many coming to have a look at the donkeys and where they live and enjoying the many demonstrations and sights to see at this celebration. There are people involved in several ways of being part of the fundraiser for the day, including Rita.
Tiny Tim is not very old, I believe, but he appears to be pretty cranky and not too sociable here. The other donkeys prefer to stay clear of him and definitely did not want to come into the barn when he was there. It was a struggle but Timmy stepped up to the challenge and did come in to see the kids.
Timmy, a mini Mediterranean donkey, is 28 years old and 34” tall and loves children. He showed off his teeth to some little ones and enjoyed all the attention he received. He is a very protective donkey, too, he once caught and killed a coyote who was threatening the herd.
George is 6 years old and has a loud and squeaky bray, which may be the reason he is called boisterous, but he was quiet during our visit to the barn and he’s considered to be a kind donkey. He arrived with an abscess that causes him severe pain that may take months or years to heal, in the meantime he must remain here at the barn.
Had someone asked me what animal I would call ‘adorable’ or ‘cuddly’, I would instantly say a kitten or puppy but I think I have to add a donkey to that list! It was amazing to see how they like to hug and cuddle with people. Jose soon became my buddy after a few scratches behind the ears and wasn’t willing to give that up too soon.
There is a story for every donkey that lives in the Refuge and some of them are very sad. A quote from the owner is “Donkeys give gentle love to their owners and are easily vulnerable to abuse.” That is heartbreaking to hear, but wonderful to know there is this refuge they can come to.
The wonderful atmosphere at the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge shows all the love they’re given from the staff and volunteers and how happy the donkeys become once they’ve been rehabilitated here.
The barns, pens and surroundings were immaculately clean and very impressive, a result of hard work and the dedication of many. The donkeys looked great in their Sunday best when we were there and were wearing a name band around their neck for us to identify them.
We can only hope that the Open House and fundraiser will help keep these donkeys and those to come, safe from harm and happy.There are several ways to help the Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge, whether by volunteering or contributions to sponsor one of the special donkeys so click here and learn more. They’re open to the public for summer hours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00am to 4:00pm.
It's a great place to spend some time and the donkeys love your visits.
There is just no place like home and this is home to these donkeys.
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