The PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Tails Blog

Donkey Tails blog is a well written, informative and very interesting blog by volunteer Vivian about PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary and their animals at the wonderful donkey sanctuary in the Roseneath Ontario area. 

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Donkey Grooming

Posted by PrimRose on March 20, 2018 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This is a very informative video by the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada on donkey grooming.


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Naming Donkeys

Posted by PrimRose on March 14, 2018 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

When a new Donkey comes to the sanctuary they often are already named. Reasons that they may be renamed is that they don’t respond to the name therefore not knowing it is their’s or if the name does not suit them. If a donkey has a name , recognizes it but it is still changed the first consonant sound is kept same as that is what the donkey recognizes. Here on the left is Moon, good friend of Star, who's small white star can be seen on the forehead. Marching over is Indiana Jones also called Indie. These three were already named.

In this photo is Finegan mule already named and the buried head is likely Karl. The tall mule on the right is Jessie. When she came her name was Jezebel which did not suit her so she was renamed.

The white donkey on the left is Sally with her six year old son Oliver. The dark donkey is Robbie and the tall donkey is Joey. Sally was rescued from an auction and was pregnant with son Oliver. They were both named after arriving at the sanctuary. Oliver was named after Sheila's cat that had passed away the day before Oliver was born. Oliver kitty passed away at age 23! Robbie was also named after arriving at the sanctuary and his full name is Robbie Burns :) Joey, well his name just suits him perfectly!

As any visitor to the sanctuary would agree the names are carefully chosen and suit each animal.



Posted by PrimRose on March 5, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Virgil is a small mule and had a donkey father and horse mother. It is possible Virgil has some Shetland pony in him noticeable in his colouring. Virgil has been at the sanctuary for years but remains very cautious around humans. This is the story of his rescue. Sheila got a call there was a mule for sale at an animal auction. When she arrived the auctioneer was prodding Virgil with an electric cattle prod making him squeal in pain which many there found humorous. So his caution around humans is for a good reason. On occasion Virgil will chase donkeys away from the hay bale but this does not happen often. He tends to associate with other mules and hinnies in particular Finegan mule. Both Virgil and Finegan get some extra nutrition in their own bowls but Virgil has learned he is better off eating alone as Finegan will eat as fast as he can then go after Virgil’s bowl. Virgil is quite a favourite at the sanctuary! Come and meet him Thursday and Sunday from 1-4pm all year round. Here's the link to our location:


Donkey Reproduction

Posted by PrimRose on February 27, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

All male animals at the sanctuary are neutered preferably prior to arrival or they are segregated and are neutered here. As all the animals at the sanctuary are rescued it is clear there are many unwanted animals and reproduction is not desirable. Neutering is preferable prior to arrival at the sanctuary. Unneutered jacks cause the female animals (jennets) to go into heat which can get disruptive. Female donkeys can go into heat their entire lives but pregnancy before the age of 3 and after 40 is very hard on the animal. Jennets are pregnant for 12 months and rarely have twins. Going into heat begins between 8 months and two years. Heat lasts for 6-9 days and occurs every 23-30 days. Jacks become sexually mature between 8 months and a year. Unless a jack is used for breeding it is easiest to castrate just before weaning around 6 months. Jacks should not be used for breeding before the age of 2 years. Uncastrated jacks do not make good pets as they can be aggressive and difficult to handle. This is Sally who was pregnant when she arrived at the sanctuary and is often found with her 6 year old son Oliver at her side.


Donkey Body Language

Posted by PrimRose on February 21, 2018 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (1)

As well as braying to communicate, which has many different meanings, donkeys, mules and hinnies also use body language. Of course there is the infamous donkey kick and they do nip each other, and simply walking away from someone or something they are not interested in are all indicative of of displeasure. Like many animals laying the ears back flat against the head is also a donkey warning. In the first photo Gordon the hinny does have his ears back but they are not flat against his head. This is his “look at me, see how hungry and cute I am” and there is no warning here at all.

However look at Wilson the hinny on the left in the second photo. His ears are flat back and he is very displeased. He may even nip Gordon as he is jealous and sure Gordon is going to get a treat and he is not. Just to set the record straight: this as never happened as the boys are always treated equally but Wilson’s body language is always the same if he feels left out.


Kitty Lamonte

Posted by PrimRose on February 13, 2018 at 6:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Five years ago Kitty Lamonte came to the sanctuary because his mother rejected him at birth. Kitty was bottle fed by Sheila in the house for the first few weeks. The cats at the sanctuary are called for dinner by “kitty, kitty” and the little lamb associated dinner time with kitty as well. That is how he earned his name. When he was able to feed himself he moved to the barn. Shortly after Preston the goat was also rescued and the two would race around the barn playing and butting heads. In the winter Kitty moves into the barn to keep Bernice an elderly goat company, as Preston and Vanna goat do not share the outside shelter and food in the winter. In the spring Kitty and Bernice will move outside to join the other two.Kitty is shorn once a year in the spring. Sometimes on a tour I am asked if Kitty’s black freckle indicates a breed of sheep but it does not, it is a birthmark. Often when we are in the barn we can feel eyes watching us and sure enough it is Kitty watching our every move. Yesterday when I felt eyes on me Kitty was lying down. When we had gazed at other for awhile he stood up and rested his head on the railing and continued watching. Here is his cute face framed by the railing.


Donkey Vision

Posted by PrimRose on February 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (3)

Donkeys use their eyes as one of their main detectors of danger. At the sanctuary I have seen a donkey staring off into the distance seeing movement long before I do. Donkeys can use both eyes to focus on objects called binocular vision or use one eye only for monocular vision. There are blind spots directly behind and in front of a donkey. Donkeys have very good night vision although their eyes need time to adjust from bright light to low light conditions which is why the donkeys will stand for a few moments when coming into the barn after being outside. Also give a donkey’s eyes time to adjust when loading onto a trailer. As Patsy and Jenny at the sanctuary demonstrate, donkeys adjust well to complete or partial blindness. Donkeys are so stoic that often owners will not notice if they are going blind. Symptoms can include abrupt head movements when a moving object enters their sight line or movingtheir heads to be able to see an object, both of which Jenny demonstrates. If possible a blind donkey’s stall should be kept clear of obstacles and regular items such as food, water and salt licks should be kept in the same location. It is important to speak frequently when around a blind donkey. Also touching helps blind donkey be aware of where you are. As visitors and volunteers at the sanctuary can testify Patsy has perfected using her braying to let us know what she wants. Braying in the stall can mean feed me or take me out, which we do with a lead line. It can also mean open my stall so I can wonder the barn tonight or I don’t have enough hay. If Patsy is in the yard or field braying means get a lead line and take me in. Once when I was leading Patsy a gate was not open and she banged her forehead which meant I had to earn her trust to be able to lead her again.

Blind donkeys can form bonds with seeing donkeys who become their seeing eyes. This happened with Patsy, first Amos, then Jonathon Cupcake stepped forward to guide Patsy. Sadly both have passed away. Blindness can be caused by eye disease such as infections and cataracts, old age or perhaps genetic, if a foal is born blind or with one eye. Blind donkeys can lead a full life as they are so adaptable and often a companion Donkey will step forward to help as well.


The Mules Versus the Snowman

Posted by PrimRose on January 29, 2018 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (1)

Here are Wilson and Gordon hinnies and Austin mule watching me build a snowman from a safe distance.

Wilson was quite shocked at the completed Snowman and would not come close. Here his nostrils are flared as he tries to figure out who this intruder is.

The dangerous Snowman complete with hay for hair and equine treats for features stands guard.

Wilson and Austin wanted nothing to do with Snowman, treats or not.

Brave Gordon strolled over and removed the snowman’s features.

Volunteers Dave and Lynn joined the action, gamely sacrificing their garments to the Snowman. They dressed the Snowman as a sanctuary volunteer with a PrimRose hat and sweatshirt, pitchfork and wheelbarrow.

The sanctuary is always in need of volunteers as stall cleaners, groomers, tour guides and many other volunteer roles. Please contact Sheila at the sanctuary if you have an hour or two to spare.


Donkeys and Lice

Posted by PrimRose on January 22, 2018 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (1)

This has been a bad year for lice at the sanctuary especially noticeable in autumn, late winter and early spring, winter infestations are usually the worst. Symptoms of lice are a dull, matted coat. Donkeys will rub against objects causing loss of hair or raw skin. In severe cases a donkey can get anemia due to loss of blood from the sucking lice. These lice only infect equines and are spread by direct contact. To see if a donkey has lice part the hair especially at the base of the tail and look for one of two types of lice. Biting lice are active and moving and sucking lice are attached and drawing blood. Treatment is a pesticide designed for equines and must be applied twice, once to kill the lice and again to kill the eggs after they have hatched usually two weeks later. Treatments come in pour ons and dusts and most include permethrin of 1 to 10%. Check with the vet to see which percentage is best for donkeys. In order to avoid the spread of lice between donkeys don’t share grooming brushes and coats and keep infected animals isolated. This is Sadie with her winter coat on. As Sadie has lice she has been treated with a dust containing permethrin.


Indiana Jones Donkey

Posted by PrimRose on January 15, 2018 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (2)

Indiana Jones was given to the sanctuary because his owner was no longer going to be living on a farm. As with all new animals at the sanctuary, when Indie first arrived he was kept in a quiet area while his health and personality was observed but was he anxious to join the main pace! On his previous farm Indie was in a barn with a radio and a nightlight so he did not get lonely. But you can’t beat the company of other donkeys. As soon as Indie joined the other donkeys he began looking for a girlfriend and Sally was his first choice. He follows Sally around and tries to stop other donkeys, particularly males, from getting close. Oliver, Sally’s son, wants no part of Indie’s nonsense and will step between Indie and Sally. Indie was fed food at the previous farm that was too high in protein and calories: all a healthy donkey needs is hay. He has developed a large fat deposit along his mane which is now a broken crest. Even though he is fed healthy hay at the sanctuary this fat deposit will never go away and puts a great strain on Indie’s neck. Massage can help loosen the fat deposit so it becomes softer. Meanwhile here is Indie braying in the barn likely telling me he feels the food at the sanctuary is somewhat lacking!!! It will take some time to break bad eating habits!


Indie donkey