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Our vision


Our vision is a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering and where their contribution to humanity is fully valued.

Changing the world for donkeys
There are an estimated 50 million donkeys in the world and our vision is to reach them all: To elevate their status, to transform their lives, and to create a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering.

Our six key aims to change the world for donkeys by 2023 are:

1. We will ensure that every donkey in the UK can live a happy and healthy life

2. We will transform the lives of working donkeys in greatest need across the world

3. We will significantly reduce the number of donkeys suffering in the production of meat, milk and skin

4. We will ensure that donkeys affected by major disaster receive prompt and expert care

5. We will transform the status of donkeys, demonstrating the positive impact they have on human health and happiness/wellbeing

6. We will demonstrate the value of feral and wild donkeys in their natural and human environments

The vision for our farms and sanctuaries

At the heart of our vision on our own farms and sanctuaries, lies the desire to make our donkeys and mules’ lives as rich and fulfilling as possible, whilst at the same time ensuring that our cause is as relevant and inspiring as possible to existing and future audiences. 

Over five decades our welfare, veterinary and farm teams have ensured the safety and welfare of the animals in our care, in essence giving them four of the ‘five freedoms’ - freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease and freedom from fear and distress. This has been a tremendous achievement, firmly securing The Donkey Sanctuary as the world leader in all matters related to donkey welfare.

We believe that the next and vital step in further improving our resident herds’ lives, will be to build on the work already done to give them freedom from negative states and conditions, to give them freedom to experience as many positive states and conditions as possible.  This would include giving them freedom to express natural behaviours and to make choices - choices about social interactions and herding, freedom to move, explore and travel, and freedom to browse and forage. By enriching our animals’ surroundings and evolving how their physical environment is managed, we believe we can better offer our herds these freedoms, thereby enhancing their welfare and wellbeing. 

By giving donkeys and mules greater opportunities to exhibit an extensive range of natural and dynamic behaviours we will deepen target audiences’ understanding of donkeys and mules as sentient, intelligent and dynamic animals in their own right, whilst at the same time show-casing the positive impact they can have on the well-being of those that interact with them. By interweaving sustainable, varied and enlightened approaches to land management in our efforts to enrich our donkeys’ environments, we can also demonstrate their positive impacts on the environment they live in at different spacial scales.

Our vision for donkeys in greatest need worldwide

Whilst on our farms and sanctuaries we are able to make every effort to give our donkeys and mules freedom from negative states such as hunger, thirst, pain, injury and fear, for many animals further afield, both on home shores and globally, even these basic freedoms are denied them. 

Donkeys are the backbone of some of the most impoverished communities on the planet. In Ethiopia there is a saying; that if you do not have a donkey than you are a donkey - and often this is most true for women and children in donkey-owning communities. The fate of donkeys and the people that depend on them can be inextricably bound up together.

At The Donkey Sanctuary we use cutting edge science and technology to analyse where the need is greatest in the world, looking at intensity of suffering and scale, as well as where we have most opportunity to make a difference. Sometimes our analysis directs us to specific geographical areas; at other times, it will point us to industries or types of work that is spread across the world. We may be tackling on-going chronic need or it may be a short-term need for urgent assistance. In all circumstances, however, we employ skill and creativity to meet the challenges we find. We remain flexible, adapting quickly to make a lasting difference wherever we can.

We aim for our operational work to deliver high priority, sustainable change that transforms donkeys’ lives in the long-term. We will also be available for rapid response to urgent, emerging donkey welfare crises. The challenges that donkeys face continually evolve and our work evolves accordingly. 

Our values ►

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