With fresh funds, Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire founders offer animals a better life

IFAW donated 5000 euros to the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire.This spring couldn’t have had a better start for Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire. They received a donation of 5000 euros from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)!

This much needed money is going to be well spent.

The Dutch Marina Melis and her husband Ed Koopman started Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire twenty years ago.

Together they wanted to take care of sick, hurt and orphaned donkeys on the island. They bought a piece of land and built facilities, including a feeding area.

In the past Marina and Ed took care of a lot of donkeys, but the work is overwhelming them right now. The feeding shelter was built for 100 donkeys, but it’s a home for almost 500 donkeys now. IFAW’s donation will be used to build new feeding cribs.

The Dutch Marina Melis with one of her wards.These will be made out of concrete, so the donkeys won’t knock them over when they enthusiastically dig in to their food.

The area for the new feeding station will also be elevated. We’re very happy we can contribute to this useful goal!

Bonaire is known for its dry and barren climate. ‘Then what are those donkeys doing there?’ you might wonder. These donkeys were brought to Bonaire by the Spanish in the 17th century. They were used for heavy work. When modern transportation became affordable, the donkeys were abandoned.

For most donkeys, this didn’t end well.

Because Bonaire is so dry and barren, a lot of animals suffer from starvation and dehydration. The donkeys also face threats such as tetanus, abuse and traffic accidents.

Part of the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire population.Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire responds to calls about donkeys in need. Sick and hurt animals are taken to the sanctuary where they can recover. Once the foals and mares are nursed back to health, they can spend the rest of their lives in the safety of the sanctuary.

The stallions are being castrated and released back into the wild. They often show very aggressive behavior, and therefore they can’t stay in the sanctuary.

They are being monitored closely.

The sanctuary wants to see a structural solution for the donkey-problem on the island. The government took up the plan to catch the donkeys and transport them to Haiti, this despite of the stress the catching would cause. With the donkeys on Bonaire being wild donkeys, they're not in the least suitable to work together with humans.

One of the donkeys resting.Marina and Ed submitted a new plan. They want to catch the donkeys and give them a good life in their shelter.

There are about 150 wild donkeys remaining on the island, most of them pregnant mares. The stallions will be released after they have been castrated, but at least they can’t make new, little donkeys anymore!

At this moment the sanctuary is discussing this plan with the government.

The building of the feeding area has started and thanks to the donation of IFAW it can be finished quickly. We’re happy we’re able to support the shelter and in this way create a better life for the donkeys of Bonaire.


Our work to help animals like the donkey's of Bonaire depends on support from people like you.

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