Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Congratulations to the Donkey Sanctuary Aruba Upon Celebrating Their 25th Anniversary

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The first donkeys came to Aruba from Spain at the end of the 1400’s. They were imported because there was a need for means of transportation for people and goods. Early in the 20th century there were some 1400 donkeys on the island.

Everything was fine until the first cars hit the roads; in the 1950’s the number of cars had increased a lot and donkeys became redundant. They were released in Aruba’s countryside and that was not always a good idea: the Aruban donkey became almost extinct; this was due to measures of the government as well as to car accidents.

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In the ‘70s there were only 20 donkeys left, but then things started to improve. In the ‘90s there were around 100 donkeys, and one of them was Ban Ban. Ban Ban was injured after children had thrown boiling water onto him. Ramon Boekhoudt took pity on him in 1994 and sheltered him beneath a tree –– it was the start of the donkey sanctuary. Money was collected and there were campaigns; a number of volunteers started to get the Santa Lucia terrain ready. In 1997 everything was ready and the Ezelopvang Aruba was officially registered at the Chamber of Commerce.

The first 10 roaming donkeys were picked up at Pos Chiquito and slowly but surely the number of donkeys that were caught, grew. At first it was mostly sick and injured donkeys, but later it was also healthy donkeys that were taken to Santa Lucia. Traffic on the island was ever-increasing and it became too dangerous for the animals to roam freely.

In 1998 volunteer Desiree Eldering started at the sanctuary, which was normally closed to the public. In 2004 things changed and visitors were allowed entry; at first only in the mornings, but from 2010 in the afternoons as well. Nowadays we annually receive some 30,000 visitors. From, 2006 on, board members and volunteers started getting their new venue at Bringamosa ready for donkey occupation, because Santa Lucia became too crowded. In 2016 the donkeys moved at last! At this point there are 127 donkeys with us – 6 of those live at Desiree’s. They are the problem `children’ who need some extra care and attention. Sometimes they don’t get along with humans or other donkeys.
 
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The shelter’s first and eldest lodger is still there: Ban Ban!

At Bringamosa there are now a few apartments with 4 beds for volunteers. Besides local volunteers (around 30), the sanctuary receives volunteers from all over the world, working for several organizations. These mostly stay for 2 to 12 months and they help out on a daily basis. It is wonderful to be able to house them at the sanctuary.

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There are still about 40 roaming donkeys on the island – the sanctuary’s aim is to house them all at the

sanctuary in the future. There, all the males have been castrated to prevent inbreeding. A breeding program with stallions from the other islands is hopefully in the cards. Due to Covid things have been delayed. Imagine how great it would be to have baby donkeys frolicking at Bringamosa!

Please visit their website to make a donation and sign up for their newsletter.

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