Devon donkey sanctuary closes to visitors

Ivybridge Donkey Sanctuary -Credit:Google
Ivybridge Donkey Sanctuary -Credit:Google

Ivybridge’s Donkey Sanctuary has been shut to visitors and is one of four under threat of permanent closure due to financial pressures. Bosses at the Devon-headquartered charity have begun a consultation on the proposed closure of sanctuaries in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Ivybridge, with the one in Belfast potentially being scaled back - but the main site in Sidmouth is not included.

Bosses said the potential closures were because the charity needed “to make best use of our donors’ money and to ensure we continue to achieve our core mission of improving the welfare of donkeys in the UK and around the world”. In total 57 workers are under consultation for redundancy, with 11 of them being in Ivybridge.

A Donkey Sanctuary spokesperson said: “We are committed to redeploying as many staff as possible. Details will only be known after the consultation is concluded.”

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The Ivybridge Donkey Sanctuary, in Filham Park, has 21 donkeys living there. The spokesperson said: “If closures do go ahead, we are confident that all donkeys can be safely relocated to a new home suited to their individual needs.”

A statement on the Ivybridge Donkey Sanctuary website said: “The Donkey Sanctuary is proposing the closure of four of our Donkey Assisted Activity (DAA) centres in Manchester, Ivybridge, Birmingham and Leeds, and for Belfast to become a small sanctuary and rehoming centre. This is subject to a consultation process, which begins the week commencing May 20.

“The changes are being proposed to ensure we can continue to deliver our core mission to improve the welfare of donkeys in the UK and around the world. Throughout the consultation period, all centres involved will be closed to visitors and we will be in touch with all those who have booked visits. Our main site in Sidmouth, Devon, remains open to visitors. "

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Elisabeth Svendsen in Devon and became a charity in 1973. It went on to become one of the largest equine charities in the world with an annual income and expenditure of £37m.

Its headquarters are at Slade House Farm, in Sidmouth, from where the charity oversees international operations worldwide. More than 14,500 donkeys have been looked after by the charity in the UK and Ireland.