Day in the Life: Dean, The Donkey Sanctuary

The first people you meet when you arrive at The Donkey Sanctuary are the Meet and Greet team.

Dean, who’s worked at the Sanctuary for 29 years, is a member of the team and enjoys chatting with visitors as they come through the door.

Dean chatting with donkeys Laurel and Hardy

“We check whether the visitor has been before, give details about the layout of the site, and the best areas that day to see the donkeys. We also find out if they are here to see an adopted donkey,” he says.

The donkeys are free to roam around the 132 acres site so finding them may be difficult without this extra help.

Dean, along with his colleagues, runs two 20-minute talks a day. The talk focuses on a brief history of the Sanctuary and how Dr Elisabeth Svenson set it up.

Plaque of Dr Elisabeth Svenson, founder of The Donkey Sanctuary

Her philosophy continues to this day and her motto “donkeys come first, second, and third” is a key focus of all the work carried out to improve the lives of donkeys.

Slade Farm, the base of the Sanctuary in Sidmouth, is one of the smaller farms and has 230 donkeys on the site. At the other seven farms in the UK there are between 300-600 donkeys. The charity also runs a number of farms overseas, including in Spain, Italy, and Cyprus.

The best part of Dean’s job is telling people about the Sanctuary. “We get a lot of regulars who frequently visit and it’s good to see them and reconnect.”

He also enjoys spreading awareness about the donkeys and spending time with the animals. “They are very sociable animals,” he adds.

The Meet and Greet team is based at the information centre and they have a lot of knowledge about the surrounding area and the other best places to visit in East Devon.

Why not say hello the next time you visit?

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