Written by on 30/09/2020

IMAGE: Faith Burden Executive Director Equine Operations, The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth has finally reopened its doors for the first time since the UK was put into a coronavirus lockdown. On-site capacity has been capped to allow for social distancing and face coverings will be required in queue areas and in the gift shop.
The charity says visitors will still be able to meet the site’s resident donkeys, but some outdoor areas will remain closed and other COVID-19 safety measures have been introduced.

A spokesperson for The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Like lots of other attractions, people can expect a different visitor experience when visiting the sanctuary. “We have put a number of measures in place to keep visitors, our staff and of course, our donkeys as safe as possible. These new measures include one-way loops around the site and fewer opportunities to interact with the resident donkeys.
“The safety of our visitors, staff and donkeys is paramount and every consideration has been made to make sure we can offer the highest level of safety for everyone. “We very much look forward to welcoming visitors back on site and would like to thank everyone for their continued support over the last few months.”

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Elisabeth Svendsen. It was registered as a charity in 1973. By 1973 Svendsen was caring for 38 donkeys. In June 1974, she received a phone call from a solicitor who was the Executor of the Estate of the late Miss Violet Philpin who had been running the Helping Hand Animal Welfare League Donkey Sanctuary near Reading, Berkshire. The solicitor explained that Svendsen had been left a legacy of 204 donkeys. At that time advertisements were appearing regularly in UK publications appealing for financial support for Violet Philpin’s Donkey Sanctuary to the extent that the name Violet Philpin became very familiar in Britain with the care and welfare of donkeys.

In 2010, the charity faced re-homing problems as a result of the recession. It made an appeal for people to volunteer to provide foster homes for its donkeys. The Donkey Sanctuary is managed by seven trustees who are responsible for the charity, its assets and activities. In 2011, the Donkey Sanctuary founder Elisabeth Svendsen died aged 81. On the 28th September – 2020 The Donkey Sanctuary re-opened to the general public, for the first time since an extended period of closure due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

Jay Richards for Riviera FM spoke with Faith Burden, Executive Director Equine Operations, The Donkey Sanctuary.

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