As many of you are aware, we have a limited number of days each year when the Sanctuary Farm is open to the public (Wednesdays and Sundays, May – October, as well as 4 Sundays in December). In their own way, though, every one is a mini Donkey Day what with the hundreds of visitors and the joyful atmosphere.
On any given afternoon there are donkeys mingling with visitors in the barnyard and in the Learning Centre Paddock, while still others greet the public from their locations in the Donkey House Paddock, the Mules Paddock and the Garden Paddocks. It is always so enjoyable to walk around and listen to the appreciative murmurs from younger and older alike.
Integral to the peaceful atmosphere that the hundreds experience on every Open Day, though, is the contribution being made by our personable, dedicated volunteers and staff. They circulate quietly as the hours go by, always ready to answer a question, acknowledge a smile or to relate to the listener a donkey’s particular story. At the same time, volunteers and staff are watching carefully, making certain that there are not too many in the barnyard at any one time (too much human attention can be stressful), or that a little hand is not too close to a donkey’s mouth.
In this quiet environment that is the animals’ world volunteers and staff encourage a great deal of learning, too. Whether it takes place at a Donkey Talk, in the Learning Centre, in the Treatment area, or over a fence, it is hoped that visitors will become better informed about the donkeys: their behaviour, their contribution to the human experience and their ongoing welfare in contemporary society.
During Open Days at The Donkey Sanctuary of Canada, we are fond of saying that the donkeys are the stars – and that is true. At the same time, though, the combined efforts of volunteers and staff make an essential contribution to the visitor experience and we are so grateful for everything that they do.
Sandra Pady, Founder