An under-pressure donkey sanctuary has been inundated with abandoned animals due to the coronavirus emergency.
In the last month, the Donegal Donkey Sanctuary has taken in 22 donkeys – some handed over by owners no longer able to keep them and others left abandoned in various locations across Ireland.
The facility, which is owned and run by the Curran family, is dealing with the influx of new residents at a time when revenues have been slashed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
The sanctuary in Castledooey, between Letterkenny and Lifford, would usually welcome thousands of members of the public every year. But it has been closed to visitors since the outbreak began.
The money generated by paying visitors is used for the upkeep of the animals, particularly during the winter months.
The Currans have launched a fund raising campaign to help them continue caring for the donkeys while lockdown continues.
Sandra Curran, who runs the sanctuary with husband Danny, said the donkeys given up by owners are usually in good health, but those found abandoned are often in a bad way.
“It’s an unprecedented situation where normally we would have our doors open and we’d have lots of visitors coming in every day and that’s not going to happen,” she said.
“But then the flip side of the coin is unfortunately relating to Covid we are taking in way more donkeys than we normally would and an unprecedented amount over the last month.
“A lot of people are giving up their donkeys or worse than that abandoning them because of job losses and economic financial circumstances.”
The sanctuary now has more than 100 donkeys on the property but Mrs Curran said there was a list of other unwanted ones they still had to go and out and collect.
The sanctuary runs a fostering scheme, so several animals will ultimately end up going to new homes.
Mrs Curran said the family’s main worry was the upcoming winter.
“In the summer yes there are costs and there are always running costs, but the animals are grazing,” she said.
“The money that we normally raise during the summer, particularly from the gift shop and the tea room, is what helps feed the population over the winter.
“And you know now we don’t have that and we also have an increased population.”
For more information on the sanctuary’s fundraising appeal visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/ptaq8h-covid19-appeal