The Donkey Sanctuary defends decision to remain closed

Poitou donkeys. Picture: The Donkey Sanctuary

Poitou donkeys. Picture: The Donkey Sanctuary - Credit: Archant

The Donkey Sanctuary hopes to slowly reopen its Sidmouth site but does not have a date yet.

The charity has been criticised for ‘withdrawing’ from public life, affecting its thousands of devoted supporters and donors claims one Herald reader.

A spokesman for The Donkey Sanctuary has said the Sidmouth site welcomed 400,000 visitors every year and they did not want to increase the risks to the staff, whose main priority was to care for their resident donkeys.

Kathie Linley contacted the Herald and said the sanctuary had been closed nearly six months.

She added: “The reason given is that it is too difficult safely to manage the press of many people through the site’s multiple access points. Much the same reason was given for closing public parks and gardens.

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“But it is now understood that there is truly negligible risk of virus transmission in the open air and from people simply passing each other on a pathway.

“Parks and gardens have been open for many weeks, along with zoos, petting farms and, latterly, shops and restaurants.

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“Most have nothing like the space and quality of facilities of The Donkey Sanctuary, so the continued failure to reopen is mystifying...

“The sanctuary’s total withdrawal from public life is very hard on its thousands of devoted supporters and donors.

“Many have bought plaques, trees and seats for the site as memorials to lost loved ones: memorials to which they are now denied access. Many who normally make frequent regular pilgrimages to visit their ‘adopted’ donkeys will also feel bereft.”

A Donkey Sanctuary spokesman said: “The safety of our visitors, staff and donkeys is paramount and is an overriding factor in our decision making.

“The Donkey Sanctuary is incredibly lucky to have a loyal supporter base who have stood by us during this very difficult time. They expect us to put the welfare of our donkeys first and we would like to thank them for their continued support.

“In the coming weeks we will continue to monitor the situation on a local, regional and national level and hope to share with you our plans to slowly re-open our Sidmouth site. Only when it’s safe to do so, will we welcome visitors back.”

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