Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Antigua's Donkey Sanctuary - interesting info

This info came from my friend Jennifer:

Antigua’s Donkeys

Historically, donkeys were a very important part of life in Antigua. They were used as work animals in the sugar cane fields and by crop farmers to carry their harvest to market. In the 1960’s, the economic focus in Antigua began shifting from agriculture to tourism and the donkey’s usefulness began to decline. Many were turned out to fend for themselves and, of course, have reproduced at will, resulting in a very large stray and roaming population.

While most of us appreciate the donkeys and their importance to the nation, the fact remains that when allowed to wander at will they invade farmers’ plots and residents’ gardens and eat down the vegetation. They also present a danger on the roads, especially at night, and need to be properly controlled.

The Antigua & Barbuda Humane Society, located on the eastern side of the island near Bethesda, offers a permanent home for donkeys at risk. The Donkey Sanctuary currently shelters more than 80 donkeys but this number is by no means finite. Although all stallions are castrated on arrival, more often than not the mares are already in foal when they arrive. As the gestation period is almost a year, there are frequently surprises in store.

In addition to the foals, a favourite of visitors to the Donkey Sanctuary is Stevie, an adult donkey who was struck by a vehicle and is now totally blind. Because of the special care and attention that is given to Stevie he is able to manage quite well and loves the extra attention he receives.

It is also the Humane Society’s plan to gradually bring all stray and roaming donkeys into the Donkey Sanctuary in order to keep them safe. The Government of Antigua & Barbuda has promised to allocate additional lands to make this possible. The Humane Society will have to find the funds for the fencing materials but the Government has promised to assist with fencing labour.

In addition to providing limited grazing and carrying water to them, the Humane Society also feeds the sanctuary donkeys purchased pellet feed every day, which is a significant drain on resources. In the past, the Society has received occasional grants for fencing projects and shelter construction but feeding the donkeys is primarily the Humane Society’s responsibility. When paddocks become overgrazed, the Society cuts and carries grass and bush, and begs stale bread from the local bakeries. The dry season, January to August, is particularly difficult. To help raise funds for feed, the Humane Society sells T-Shirts at the sanctuary and offers an ‘Adopt an Antiguan Donkey’ programme (see their website for details: ).

The Donkey Sanctuary is open to visitors Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors are welcome to help brush and feed the donkeys, and take as many photos as they like.
More here:
Dear Friends,

Please join me at Abra’s on Thursday Feb 11 from 5-7pm for a preview showing of “One Love One Heart”.

The pieces I am showing are mixed media: photos and paint, on canvas and recycled wood blocks, finished with layers of epoxy resin, a new medium for me!

Exhibition will run until March 10. Opening night Snacks and wine compliments of Abra’s team!

Sales to support The Donkey Sanctuary at the Humane Society-- With each piece sold one donkey will be fed and housed at the sanctuary in your name for an entire year—A representative from the Humane Society will be at the event with more information on this special program.

Feel free to pass on this invite, event is open to public.

Hope to see you there,

Jennifer Meranto