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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Volunteer Projects at the Sanctuary

Posted by PrimRose on April 24, 2018 at 6:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Sheila is always looking for volunteers at the sanctuary. In particular need right now is Saturday mucking out, please email Sheila if you can help. There are many different volunteer opportunities at the farm. Mucking out, giving tours on Thursdays and Sundays, grooming, helping during feeding time and replenishing water are frequent duties. There are volunteers who bake,paint, crochet or take photos of the donkeys. Onevent days there are volunteers who make coffee/tea or help with set up and take down. There are volunteers who repair fences and fix gates or walls of the barn. The barn is frequently painted. There are volunteers who make runs to the dump or drive the trailer to pick up rescued donkeys.This photo shows a project recently completed by volunteer Elliot. This is a hay rack with a roof to keep the rain/snow off the hay as this can cause the hay to rot.

Here's the link to more information on volunteering at PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary:

If you'd like to help, please visit the sanctuary on one of our open days Thursdays or Sundays 1-4pm and speak to Sheila who is the owner of the sanctuary. Alternately you may send an email to [email protected]


Portraits and Personality

Posted by PrimRose on April 17, 2018 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

It is interesting to observe the donkeys and mules; their personalities and behaviour are quite different. This series of equine photos also demonstrates their personalities. This is Austin, he is a mule having a donkey for a father and a horse for a mother. He looks positively regal in this picture. Austin is cautious with strangers and prefers not to be pet which can seem standoffish. After he lost his good friend Sheema he did enjoy neck scratches. When good friends Wilson and Gordon get frisky he walks away and avoids any trouble.

This is Wilson hinny. He had a donkey for a mother and horse for a father. Hinnies are physically different then mules in that there is a slight cross on their back. The dark line on Wilson’s spine can be seen in this photo. Wilson can also seem standoffish similar to Austin. He prefers not to be pet and can be cautious around new people. Wilson is territorial and can be bossy with donkeys which is why he is kept separate from the donkeys. Here he is with his mouth full as is usually the case, ears perked and nostrils flared. He is checking if there are treats around.

This is Gordon also a hinny. His personality is similar to Wilson’s: prefers not to be touched, territorial and cautious around strangers. However Gordon is quite curious and smart. One day a gate was left open and instead of going to eat the hay on the porch he stood at the window of the house to see what Sheila was doing. When Gordon gets his photo taken he always acts nonchalant or maybe slightly embarrassed: lookingcasually right and left.

And then there are the donkeys! Donkeys are similar to dogs: they follow you around, are loyal, love a good scratch and treat and are smart and curious. It is often difficult to get a good photo as they stand so close and follow as you back up to get a good shot. Here is Charlie mini donkey doing exactly that as I try to get a good shot!

I also tried crouching but that brought Charlie too close for a photo.



Why Do Donkeys Roll

Posted by PrimRose on April 9, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkeys roll in the dirt for different reasons and during different seasons. It is interesting to watch. In the early spring donkeys roll to fluff their coats which helps with insulation when nights are still cold. In late spring donkeys roll to help with shedding of their winter coat. In summer donkeys roll in dust and mud to keep the flies at bay. Donkeys will also roll if there is any itchy spot on their coats as the mud can be soothing. Often donkeys will prepare a spot to roll by pawing with their hoof to loosen the dirt. They often take turns using the same area. Usually the donkeys prefer not to be groomed right after rolling as this negates the purpose of the mud. Of course donkeys roll just for the fun of it as well!


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Donkey Ears

Posted by PrimRose on April 3, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkey hearing is quite similar to other equines but due to ear size donkeys can pick up sounds from quite far away. Interestingly the ears can move separately from each other.

Indiana Jones is listening to me as well as something in the opposite direction with the other ear.

Jenny is listening behind her.

Here Jenny is listening behind her as well as off to the side.

Virgil has got his full attention on me and is listening very intently. Probably hoping to hear that it is dinner time and he better hurry to the barn. He has learned that he has to eat before his good friend Finegan who eats as fast as he can and then finishes off Virgil’s dinner. When donkeys are resting both ears often relax and point to the side. When both ears are pointed to the back and down tight to the head the donkey is giving a warning he is unhappy and it is best to steer clear. Something we rarely see at the sanctuary!


Mutual Grooming

Posted by PrimRose on March 26, 2018 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

It is quite interesting to watch two donkeys decide to mutually groom each other. They stand ever so slightly side by side and then muzzle along the other donkey’s side as if trying to find and agree on which is the right spot. Meanwhile at the exact same time the other donkey is doing the same nuzzling on the other side. Somehow they communicate that this is the right spot and they begin grooming at the same time, nibbling with their teeth. This goes on for a few minutes. Favourite spots are along the neck, withers or shoulders. If you are looking to get into a donkey’s good books, scratching those areas mentioned above or the base of the tail or the cheeks of the rump are great places to start. Some donkeys like to have the inside of their ears gently stroked. Here is Joey and Jenny grooming each other.


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.