The first 2020 Donkey Sanctuary calendar was presented to me just recently, in gratitude for being a donkey advocate. Not that I remember any particular incident in which I was especially pro-donkey, but it is true that I am generally very pro-donkey.
The love-affair between Aruba and its donkeys is FOUR centuries old. In the old days, donkeys were partners in industry, then with the arrival of the machine, their light dimmed.
They wandered in the wilderness, they were hit by cars, in walks Desiree Eldering, in 1997, and their life starts to improve.
The first sanctuary, in Ayo, on land loaned to the foundation by a generous member of our community was quickly nailed together, and served the donkeys well until it became too small and too difficult for visitors to find.
Finally, Desiree ran circles around the moon and the sanctuary moved, with 120 four-legged residents to lovely Brigamosa.
De Palm Tour generously offered to build a visitors’ center, and since then, the sanctuary makes effort to remain self-sustaining, welcoming tours, big and small, operating a souvenir store, soliciting donations AND selling an annual gift calendar.
This is where you come in.
Please buy a calendar at Superfood, Awg 25. The photos feature the donkeys in their habitat and were taken by a number of great volunteer local photographers.
Columnist Nico van der Zee presented the first Calendar to me on behalf of Eeyore & friends, then we had cake with slagroom, and nice Dutch coffee.
I picked up some carrots at the Chinese grocers on the way in and as soon as I entered, some astute members of the flock caught a whiff, and showed up to collect a treat, cracking my carrots with their impressive incisors – donkeys have anywhere between 16-44 teeth depending on age, and gender.
From what I understand all male donkeys at the sanctuary are neutered, which prevents over-population, most females are intact. The only free-to-procreated group of Jacks and Jennys lives at Seroe Colorado, but with hotel construction there they will have to be trapped – not easy – and transported to Bringamosa.
The sanctuary relies on volunteers. I met a 12-year-old working, he was pushing a wheelbarrow, and expertly distributing ‘dinner.’ He told me he comes once a week with his parents, feeding, cleaning, and loves it. He introduced me to two old ladies, in a private stable on their own, where they continue to age undisturbed by the younger, rude crowd.
Desiree told me she hopes to construct two small units on top of the visitors’ center, designed to accommodate working volunteers on vacation so she could advertise the open positions on global websites offering do-good experiences in exchange for work: Together for Good, or Go Voluntouring, for example.
She is also considering a male donkey exchange with other islands, in order to introduce a controlled breeding program, so that donkeys don’t just die off on Aruba, but produce a new promising generation, with improved DNA borrowed from neighbors.
That will eliminate some of the in-breeding challenges such as ear infections, overbite, or under-bite, which affect donkeys’ ability to feed themselves and live long.
It costs about $1,000 a year to support just one donkey, so sign up as a donor and your name will go up on the wall on a Delft-Blue tile.
FYI: 27.000 of the island’s visitors dropped by the donkey sanctuary last year.
Show your appreciation of Aruba’s donkeys with a donation:
Jack – young male donkey / Jenny – young female donkey