A tail of two donkey sanctuaries

Places to Go

A tail of two donkey sanctuaries

Both Flicka Donkey Sanctuary near Falmouth and the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary work tirelessly to help donkeys in need. Here Liz tells the story of these remarkable places and the work they do to rescue donkeys in distress from both the UK and abroad. Not only that, but they are great places to go whilst you're on holiday in Cornwall or the Isle of Wight.


Now, I’m a sucker for a donkey, those doleful eyes and big fluffy ears get me every time. The opportunity to say hello to these beautiful creatures was one I just couldn’t resist so on a recent visit to the Isle of Wight I headed to the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary, centrally located on the island in picturesque countryside near to Wroxall. The donkeys here come to the sanctuary for all sorts of reasons. It could be a rescued miss-treated animal, help when an owner cannot cope or to take in waifs and strays. Every donkey at the sanctuary has a sad story but their happy ending starts here. Derek, together with his team of twelve dedicated staff and an incredible fifty volunteers, currently look after one hundred and fourteen donkeys and twenty Shetland ponies.

Donkey Sanctuary, Isle of Wight

With over fifty five acres of fields to enjoy the donkeys and ponies certainly live their best life here. Donkeys are sociable beasts and need to be kept in herds where they form strong bonds. The groups are split depending on their needs and each has a name such as Just Jennies (all girls) and Jack the Lads (all young boys). Sometimes they switch groups and this can be for a variety of reasons but often to keep them with their best friends. My favourite here was definitely Miniature Mischiefs, a gang of tiny donkeys about the same size as my Labrador Nigel! All the donkeys wear a collar, red for boys and yellow for girls. Children will love the game of spot the name of the donkey. The donkeys who arrive here stay for the rest of their lives and their every need is taken care of, including regular health checks, foot and dentistry.

The donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary having a graze

It’s easy to spend all day here, just watching the donkeys happily enjoying time in the fields and there’s a great café and shop too. A wildlife area is a recent addition to the sanctuary, and this is a great place for a picnic or just to sit and take in the peace and quiet.

The Donkey Sanctuary, Isle of Wight

There is no charge, a visit here is entirely free, and the team do a fantastic job running solely on donations and legacies. Any donation is gratefully received, and you can use the link here to donate. You can also adopt a donkey and do take a look at their website for further information about this.

If you are thinking of a holiday or short break to the island take a look at our lovely collection of properties here and don’t forget to visit the sanctuary during your stay, the donkeys would love to see you.


And so on to Flicka Foundation

Based in Mabe, not far away from Falmouth, The Flicka Foundation was started over 25 years ago by Mary Berryman. Mary first rescued an elderly pony called Mikey and this was soon followed by “Flicka” a small strawberry-roan pony discovered in the middle of a smoky industrial estate. Mary loved all animals and couldn’t bear to see them suffer, and so the Flicka Foundation was born in 1995. Mary sadly is no longer with us but her legacy lives on and today the sanctuary looks after 91 donkeys and twenty horses in a lovely location with views across open countryside towards the sea. The eleven staff and half a dozen helpers work tirelessly, and their dedication is obvious. Donkeys are special animals, such gentle souls, and they need regular health checks to keep them in tip top condition. They are sensitive creatures and can die of grief, how awful is that! The donkeys here range in age from one (baby Apple Jack who is the cutest little donkey) to Emma who is pushing forty. Like the island sanctuary the donkeys are kept in herds with the main group living together in the largest stable with direct access to their own field. Did you know donkeys like to have a kick around with a football and are partial to a bit of tug-o-war with a wellie? Well, you do now! All the staff are very happy to entertain visitors with stories about the animals in their care and Fiona who showed me round filled me in on some of the sad cases they have helped with over the years. One thing is clear, the donkeys who come here live their best life and could not be happier, that goes for the staff too.

Apple Jack the donkey Some donkeys go to specially chosen foster homes and one particular place the Crate, is close to where I live in Helston. Dawn who lives at this fabulous farm fosters six of Flicka’s donkeys and visitors who call by for her fabulous baking (there’s an outdoor café there which opens Friday to Sunday weekly) can say hello to them.

The Donkeys at Crate, HelstonFlicka also has a popular cafe on site too, alongside a lovely shop with all things donkey for sale, of course. Again, there is no charge to enter Flicka or for car parking. The kind generosity of visitors and donations from supporters keep the sanctuary going. If you would like to make a donation please use the link here  or, if you are planning a visit you will need to reserve your place ahead which you can do here.

Flicka, Falmouth, Cornwall

For a look at our lovely properties in the Falmouth area you can take a look at our collection here.

Whether you are planning an island adventure or a trip to Cornwall, make sure you visit one of these sanctuaries, it will warm your heart.


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