THE DONKEY VALLEY
The unique project for the Donkey Valley rose from the need to both provide local working donkeys with veterinary care and those who no longer used for work with a sanctuary. The Donkey valley is desperately needed alternative, to the slaughterhouse.
This project for the establishment of a supply base and a sanctuary for old work donkeys was realized in Banichan, Southwestern Bulgaria. In 2016, after a lot of work, the time finally came and The Valley of the Donkeys was officially opened to accept its first residents. There are currently 60 elderly donkey living in the valley: while they spend the whole day at the pasture, they are safe from wolves in functional stables at night. Based in the valley, our mobile team does outreach work with donkeys in the region.
Nestled in small hills, the donkey valley outside the village of Banichan offers our long-eared ‘senior citizen’ ideal grazing opportunities.
The treatment hall is right at the entrance to the donkey valley and the transporter is able to get in without trouble as soon as a new donkey arrives. The treatment hall is also a possible quarantine station for sick donkeys and offers the veterinarians an enclosed space to carry out treatments.
The fenced area offers every new arrival a welcome opportunity to get used to its new surroundings and roll around in the sand field. For the vets who observe the animal for a few hours that would be a good sign that it is well.
A little stream flows through the valley in the middle but there isn’t always water. A small bridge allows the donkeys to cross over to the other side of the valley. Many trees and shrubs were planted throughout the site.
The stables for our donkeys are located on the slope of the valley in protected areas. After a day at the pasture, they return there in the evening but not before snacking on some more grass on the way home.
Each barn has spacious and bright compartments in which the donkeys have enough space to move freely in the group.
The buildings are simple and functional, but a lot of space has been taken into account. Built in a traditional local design, the buildings blend very naturally into the landscape.
If an x-ray is necessary for the diagnosis, the vets can work well under the spacious canopy. Thanks to an extremely generous donation, the donkey team has a mobile X-ray.
The stable doors open early in the morning and all donkeys make their way out to the pasture after stopping at the watering point. Donkeys that require special treatment are given veterinary care first and then follow the others.
While their stables are still being cleaned, the liveliest of senior citizens have already climbed the top pastures. They prefer to eat in the morning and prefer to have a siesta in the sand fields in the afternoon.
The wise animals have an internal clock - shortly before 4:00 p.m. they gather at the pasture exit to return to their stables, happy and balanced. It is a striking sight to watch our long-eared friends return home in the late afternoon.