The Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary. In McGregor.


McGregor. – Having seen my post ’A Weekend in McGregor’, I wanted to add some additional facts relating to the Eseljiesrus Donkey Sanctuary and the work that they do.

Most important to mention that they are not a rescue centre. But rather a sanctuary that provides permanent homes and loving care to destitute, retired, abused and rescued donkeys. A place to come and live … Not to die.

Each donkey is cared for and individually checked at least twice a day. Their eyes and hooves are cleaned, fly repellant applied and any little wounds or infections are treated. Some do come from traumatic backgrounds and are allowed the time they need to adjust to their new environment, this is never forced.

They are fed twice a day and the elderly or thin donkeys get bowls of soft food in a separate enclosure to supplement their diet. Its a good place where these too often misunderstood animals can find peace and love.

The Sanctuary takes visitors from Thursdays to Sundays between 10am to 4pm. They also offer group and school tours.

It was fascinating to hear stories about donkeys walking up to individuals and showing them attention. As though they have a soulful insight which understands hardship and can offer comfort to those who need it.

Some facts about Donkeys:

– These curious, gentle animals needs friends or suffer terrible loneliness and depression. They are affectionate and enjoy the companionship of people.
– Having originated in the African Desert, donkeys are descendant of the African Wild Ass, which is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Donkeys are desert animals and don’t like the rain as their fur is not waterproof. Being out in the rain for long periods can damage their health.
– An adult male donkey is called a ‘jack’, a female is a ‘jenny’ and a juvenile is called a ‘foal’.
– The word ‘Donkey’ is a late 18th-century word and originally rhymed with monkey.
– Reference to ‘donkey’s years’ or a long time began as a pun on the length of donkey ears.
– The correct collective noun for donkeys is a drove, herd or pace of donkeys.
– Donkeys can reach an age of 35 to 40 years if living conditions are conducive. Although many donkeys seldom live more than 10 years in third world countries.
– Donkeys have been the ‘helping hooves’ of man for thousands of years and are the original ‘beasts of burden’. Sadly they remain in that role today.
– Donkeys’ reputation for stubbornness is misinterpreted. This is due to their highly developed sense of self preservation; it is difficult to force or frighten a donkey into doing something it doesn’t see in its best interest or safety.
– Donkeys are highly intelligent animals with an incredible memory – they can recognise areas and other donkeys they were with up to 25 years ago.
– Donkeys are often kept with horses due to the calming effect they have on them. If a donkey is introduced to a mare and foal, the foal will often turn to the donkey for support after it has left its mother.
– Donkeys in a herd will groom each other in the same way as monkeys and chimps do.
– Donkeys are used as guard animals for cattle, sheep and goats. They instinctively don’t like dogs and will chase them away from a flock.
– There are about 41 million donkeys worldwide. China has the most with 11 million, followed by Pakistan, Ethiopia and Mexico.

Somehow there has always been ‘negative PR’ surrounding donkeys and they are too often ridiculed, overworked and neglected. Not appreciated and nurtured, which should be the way.

I advocate for change and respect for these beautiful, humble and sensitive animals. A safe place. They are very deserving of it. Let’s work towards giving Donkey’s their rightful status and honouring them for their character and strength.

Oh, I adopted my donkey SHEILA in May 2008 and it is always such a pleasure to return to Eseljiesrus to visit her.


Read more about McGregor here and do consider adopting a donkey and supporting the care being offered by the wonderful people of Eseljiesrus Donkey Sanctuary.

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Dawn Bradnick JorgensenDawn Jorgensen
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The Incidental Tourist

The Incidental Tourist is a Personal Travel Blog of a conscious traveller with a deep love for Africa, its people and the environment.

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