The Donkey Sanctuary: Wildlife thrives during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 17:00 06 August 2020

The Donkey Sanctuary blooms under lockdown. Picture: Simon Horn

The Donkey Sanctuary blooms under lockdown. Picture: Simon Horn

Simon Horn

Wildlife has thrived under lockdown at The Donkey Sanctuary’s international headquarters in Sidmouth.

The Donkey Sanctuary blooms under lockdown. Picture: Simon HornThe Donkey Sanctuary blooms under lockdown. Picture: Simon Horn

Paths, walkways and verges at the venue have become a riot of pinks, purples, blues and yellows after wildflowers reaped the benefit of quieter conditions.

The Donkey Sanctuary temporarily closed to visitors as part of lockdown, so grass cutting along many of the access paths, verges and walkways has been reduced, allowing nature to bloom in its ‘wild spaces’.

The abundance of wildflowers, such as chamomile, ox-eye daisies, vetch, cornflowers and poppies have provided pollinating insects such as bees, moths and hoverflies with a spring and summertime boost, as well as a notable increase in a whole host of other insects.

In turn, this has attracted more birds and bats which eat biting insects that cause much irritation to the donkeys.

More than 30 wildflower species were seen across the site.

Ruth Angell, ecology and conservation manager at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “The relaxed management of the grounds has meant wild flowers have been able to flower and seed and grasses have been left long enough to support the entire life cycles of a range of invertebrates.

“It has been really interesting to see how much wildlife our walkways can support following just a few months of less disturbance. We are now looking at ways to re-introduce management so that this can continue and both wildlife and people can enjoy the benefits.”

The Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth remains temporarily closed to visitors, along with the charity’s other UK sites.

A spokesman said the safety of visitors and staff is paramount and with numerous entry points, it would be difficult to safely manage the number of people coming in and to encourage responsible social distancing.

They added the situation, however, is being monitored on a local, regional and national level and when it is safe to do so, the sanctuaries will be re-opened.

Although the sanctuary is currently closed, the dedicated grooms are still ensuring the resident donkeys and mules continue to receive the highest level of care and visitors can enjoy their own virtual live catch up with the donkeys by logging onto the charity’s webcams on its website.

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