Set along the historic Jurassic Coast and nestled in the tranquil East Devon countryside in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is The Donkey Sanctuary; an award-winning visitor attraction home to donkeys, mules and hinnies – large and small. At the heart of the sanctuary near Sidmouth, visitors can come and say hello to some of the hundreds of donkeys waiting to meet them – completely free of charge. The resident donkeys love to meet new people and their unique characters and stories are ready to be discovered.
Discover and be entertained
Explore the sanctuary’s exciting new indoor attractions and find out just why donkeys matter through fun and interactive displays in the Exhibition Barn, Understanding Donkeys Zone and Dr Svendsen’s Hut. Embark on a journey into the far reaching work of The Donkey Sanctuary and the vital lifeline donkeys provide for communities around the world. Try on some theatre scrubs and lab coats in the Understanding Donkeys Zone; the place to learn everything about the sanctuary’s friendly residents. And no visit is complete without visiting Dr Svendsen’s Hut to learn the story of the sanctuary’s much-loved founder.
Explore and unwind
Besides the residents, enjoy the scenic farm trails, get lost in the hedge maze, discover the Nature Centre and venture further afield to the South West Coast Path. During school holidays there are also activities to keep the family entertained, from Easter hunts to pumpkin carving, which are always a big hit with families and combine exercise, brainpower and fun. Plus there is a programme of things to do and see updated regularly with daily talks, demonstrations and tours provided by the visitor team.
Enjoy stunning coast and country views from the Taste of the West award-winning restaurant, The Kitchen, where you’ll find freshly-prepared dishes using local, ethically sourced produce. Hearty breakfasts, luscious lunches and tempting afternoon treats are served daily from 9am. And for a souvenir to remember your day by, the new Gift Shop is the perfect place to a pick up quality donkey-design items or gifts.
The Donkey Sanctuary celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2019, after being founded as a charity in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen MBE. It has grown from a charity rescuing UK donkeys from neglect and abuse to an international animal welfare organisation transforming the lives of millions of donkeys and mules, and the people who depend on them for their livelihood. Admission and parking are free (donations welcome) and the sanctuary is open from 9am – 5pm*, 365 days a year. Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a lead, and many of the farm trails are access and bike-friendly.
*4pm November to February.