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Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey at the Donkey Sanctuary

A Day of Discovery at The Donkey Sanctuary, Devon

Just outside of Sidmouth in Devon, The Donkey Sanctuary is a beloved charity attraction providing a safe home for abandoned and mistreated donkeys. Spread across hundreds of acres of peaceful grazing land, a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary promises a fulfilling day of discovery as you learn about their important rescue and conservation work, meet the resident donkeys up close, and enjoy family-friendly activities.

Read on for everything you need to know to plan your day out at this special Devon attraction that provides an enriching and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Getting There

The Donkey Sanctuary has a sprawling site located just outside Sidmouth, Devon, near the village of Slade Barton. It is juet 10 minutes drive from the seaside town of Sidmouth.

By Car

Travelling by car is the easiest way to reach the sanctuary. Simply head to Sidmouth on the A3052 from Exeter and follow signs for The Donkey Sanctuary. Onsite parking is free for visitors.

Public Transport

You can also get to The Donkey Sanctuary using the number 8 bus from Sidmouth town centre. Ask the driver to stop at the sanctuary entrance. From Exeter, catch the 9A or 9B bus towards Sidmouth and change at Sidford Cross.

Donkey Sanctuary feeding

Opening Times and Prices

The Donkey Sanctuary is open daily from 9am – dusk all year round, excluding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when it closes early. Last entry is one hour before the site closes.

Entry is free with donations welcomed. Some extra experiences like donkey assisted therapy have additional fees. The field kitchen café accepts cashless payments only.

Exploring the Site From the main reception and café near the entrance, well-marked footpaths lead visitors on a journey of discovery around the sanctuary. Signposts help you navigate between the spacious grazing pastures and indoor attractions tailored for learning and fun.

Two donkeys at the donkey sanctuary

Key areas to explore include:

  • The veterinary hospital where sick and injured arrivals receive specialised care before being integrated into the herds. See vets and farriers at work through viewing windows.
  • Indoor and outdoor donkey interaction paddocks where you can pet, groom and hand feed carrots to the friendly residents.
  • Picturesque walking trails and bridleways that wind through grassy fields filled with donkey herds contentedly grazing.
  • Informative display centres shedding light on the charity’s worldwide rescue and rehoming initiatives.
  • Interactive exhibits and play zones in Eeyore’s Gateway tailor-made for kids, including oversized building blocks, dress-up and drawing areas.
  • Demonstrations ranging from donkey grooming sessions to informative talks by expert veterinary staff.

With 400 donkeys on site and over 20km of accessible pathways, you’ll want to allow a full day to explore properly and see these endearing animals up close.

Meeting the Donkeys

One of the highlights for many visitors is the chance to interact directly with The Donkey Sanctuary’s residents. In the indoor and outdoor paddocks, you can get hands-on with these gentle souls and make some new furry friends:

  • Donkey Grooming – Pick up a brush and lend a hand grooming the donkey’s shaggy coats and manes. An engaging experience for children.
  • Donkey Hand-Feeding – Buy a bag of carrots or horse treats from the café to feed by hand to the donkeys over their fences. The donkeys love this and so do the children!
  • Donkey Paddock Walks – Meander through fields as the donkeys eagerly approach you, waiting for neck scratches.
  • Assisted Therapy – Book a therapeutic session with a trained donkey who provides comfort and support.

Whether you want to simply stroll nearby and admire them grazing or get more hands-on, visiting the donkeys makes for many memorable moments.

Donkey Sanctuary

Family Fun

In addition to their educational focus, The Donkey Sanctuary incorporates plenty of family-friendly facilities. Kids will love:

  • Indoor play zones like Eeyore’s Gateway with oversized building blocks and dress-up.
  • Performances from student drama groups bringing tales of donkey bravery to life.
  • Special themed trails and quizzes to complete around the site.
  • Mini donkeys – adorable babies in spring and summer.
  • Fun cart rides around the grounds drawn by their own donkeys (for a fee).
  • Picturesque picnic areas perfect for lunch breaks.

With so much open space to run around and built-in activities tailored for children, it’s an enjoyable day out for the whole herd.

Food and Shopping

The Café uses locally-sourced ingredients to serve up hot dishes, sandwiches, pastries, cakes, and drinks – all prepared fresh onsite. Outdoor seating overlooks the pretty grounds. Cashless payments only.

The gift shop has a fantastic range of donkey-themed products including cuddly toys, books, clothing, homewares and jewellery. Kids love the pocket money souvenirs.

Making a Day of It

Between exploring the expansive grounds, getting to know the resident donkeys and built-in activities, you’ll want to dedicate a full day to make the most of a visit to The Donkey Sanctuary.

Arrive early to give yourself enough time to meander along the walking trails and view any scheduled demonstrations. Around midday, break for lunch in the café or your own picnic. Spend the afternoon revisiting favourite exhibits and donkeys in the paddocks at a more relaxed pace.

With its peaceful atmosphere and heart-warming animal encounters, The Donkey Sanctuary makes for a thoroughly enjoyable and meaningful day out where you’ll leave feeling inspired. It’s an especially wonderful choice for an educational yet fun family day out in Devon.

Grey Donkey

Commonly asked questions

How much of my donation goes to the Donkey Sanctuary? 100% of any donations are taken by the Donkey Sanctuary for the benefit of the animals

Is the Donkey Sanctuary open all year round? Yes, every day except Christmas Day

How long does it take to walk around the Donkey Sanctuary? There is family walk around the Donkey Sanctuary of about 2.6 miles. It will take about an hour if you just amble along. Follow the public footpath down to the coast for some stunning views.

Other places nearby

There are many other great places to visit in East Devon alongside the Donkey Sanctuary. Have a look at some of these places too:

  • World of Country Life – Indoor recreation of a 19th century rural village including costumed re-enactors demonstrating traditional crafts.
  • Jurassic Coast – 95 mile stretch of stunning coastal scenery with important fossil sites. Walk the South West Coast Path along the cliffs.
  • Sidmouth Museum – Charming local museum housed in a historic building detailing Sidmouth’s growth from a fishing village into a popular seaside resort.
  • Otterton Mill – Idyllic working flour mill with craft shops, art gallery and restaurants by the River Otter. Perfect for a coffee or meal.
  • Seaton Tramway – Nostalgic narrow-gauge tramway between Seaton, Colyton and Colyford offering delightful views across the Axe Valley.
  • Pecorama – Quirky miniature world near Beer with model railways, gardens and exhibitions. Ride the narrow gauge railway for scenic views.
  • A La Ronde – Unusual 18th century 16-sided historic house in Exmouth with intriguing shell and feather artwork collections.
  • Crealy Adventure Park – Top family theme park near Exeter with over 60 rides and attractions including animals, rollercoasters and water fun.
  • Bicton Park Botanical Gardens – Beautiful ornamental gardens from the 18th century with glasshouses, woodland walks, play zones and railway.

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