to the Cyprus Donkey Sanctuary
two professional people re-located to Cyprus to live a quieter life. He to
write about wine, food and rural life, she to design a home and garden in
a remote village. In 2005 they had a 7-day week looking after more than 120
donkeys and coping with thousands of visitors, mostly British, who were
totally essential to the survival of their animal sanctuary. In 2007 they were taken over by a Devon based donkey charity 'The Donkey Sanctuary.'
Part of the main site, which accommodates 70 donkeys showing
stable units and exercise yards.
Building at this site only started in June 1996, when the first unit was prepared for
the arrival of donkeys from a closed sanctuary in Crete.
The sanctuary is entirely dependent upon private donations and
income from visitors, mostly British residents and their families, and tourists from
Britain and other countries. Volunteers help care for, feed, and walk donkeys.
The residents are always pleased to see a visitor, especially those with carrots.
PRESERVING PART OF CYPRUS' HERITAGE
Progress at the country's donkey sanctuary
"Friends of the Cyprus Donkey", is a
registered Cypriot non-profit charitable association, started in October 1994 by Mary and
Patrick Skinner in Vouni village, when their original family of "pet" donkeys
had suddenly developed from three to six. In October 1995 there were 17, a year later 37,
in October 1997, 57 and today more than 80. All animals are elderly, frail or simply
unwanted, but they form part of a rapidly disappearing part of the heritage of Cyprus.
From a small private endeavour run by the Skinners, with
some help from friends, has developed a growingly efficient animal care organisation with
full-time carers, a rota of volunteers, weekly farriery sessions and consultant
veterinarians. A service of advice, medical and foot care is also offered to owners of
donkeys not in the Vouni sanctuary. All this requires an income of at least ST£7,000 per
month to meet day-to-day costs and the development programme required to take in more
"Income comes through many
channels", says Administrator Mary Skinner, "We have over a thousand members who
pay an annual subscription. Hundreds of children "adopt" a donkey for £5,00 a
year. There are a number of generous donors and we also have as many as a thousand
visitors a month, who help us financially and buy merchandise from our shop, which has a
growing range of good quality products for gifts. Nevertheless, because we are growing
all the time, we urgently need all the help we can get: financial; peoples' time, and all
kinds of materials".
are resident on four sites. Two
are not far from the Skinners' house, "The Home Site".
One, with 15 animals is the "Intensive Care Unit" for old
and frail animals. Half a kilometre away is "The Stena Site", on which
more than 80 donkeys now reside. At
Stena are the Association's shop, refreshment facilities and picnic area. More land in the Stena area and elsewhere is being rented to cope with the arrival of more unwanted animals.
Visitors are welcome from 10.00 a.m. to 4p.m. every day, except Sunday, but in view of the calls upon the staff and helpers, they are requested to phone first to
arrange their visit. Groups are very welcome and special programmes can be arranged.
Administrator of the sanctuary, Mary Skinner (left) and President
of Friends of the Cyprus Donkey, Kate Clerides, the daughter of an ex President of the
Republic of Cyprus. The
Association was run by a Cypriot-British committee of seven committed
devotees but was taken over in 2007 by a Devon based Donkey sanctuary.
| INFORMATION FOR VISITORS TO THE
there are more than 120 donkeys resident at the sanctuary at Vouni. The donkeys are accommodated in
twelve units, each unit containing about 10 donkeys. Units 1, 2 and 9 are at the "home" site, near the house of Mary and Patrick Skinner, and Units 3-8, and 10-11are at an area
called Stena about half a mile away.
now the headquarters of the sanctuary, with a visitors centre,
comprising shop, lavatories, a facility for drinks and other refreshments, and a picnic area. Units 1 and
2 are reserved for the accommodation of very old animals and those
requiring special veterinary care. Units 3 - 8 are for the younger, fitter animals who are grouped
according to age, size and condition.
animals come from all over the island. All of them are unwanted for a variety of reasons.
Some are too old to work, or their owners are too old to work them. Sometimes an owner dies or is ill and there is no-one prepared to take care of the donkey.
In many cases, a machine is now doing the job that the donkey used
to do. It is the aim of
Friends of the Cyprus Donkey to give these unwanted animals food and
shelter and, when necessary, veterinary care and to make their lives as
comfortable as possible. All animals are routinely vaccinated against tetanus and treated
for internal and external parasites. All animals receive regular visits from our farrier for routine or
specialist treatment of their feet and teeth. There is an active re-location and "re-homing" programme, which has resulted in nine animals being re-sited to date.
There have been some
changes since 2007 and many kids have been disappointed to find out that they could no
longer feed the donkeys or take them for a walk. This is because of
Sanctuary being taken over recently by Salcombe Donkey Sanctuary in
Devon. Obviously this is great news in one way, but as a recent visitor put it 'health and safety rules now
The sanctuary welcomes many thousands of visitors every year,
from all over the world.
In this picture, from left to right: Dr Clitos Andreou, Deputy Director of Cyprus
Veterinary Services; Mary Skinner and Mr Peter Davies, Director General of the RSPCA.
If you would like to support their work and make a donation , please fill in this online form
or contact us at
Friends of the Cyprus
Donkey - Sanctuary in Vouni.
- venues & Stables . Horse racing - Nicosia
If you want to ride whilst in Cyprus, see our
Cyprus Riding Holidays for the Limassol
area or Horse Riding in Paphos or
if you are staying up in the Protaras area then there is the
Horse Riding section for that area and
those in the Larnaca area may use