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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Charlie and his Angels

Posted by PrimRose on May 6, 2019 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Charlie miniature donkey was welcomed to PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary along with 3 other miniatures called Amelia Bedelia, Rosie and Tiana. A group of donkeys is called a pace and these four are always together. They share a stall together in the barn at night. You may wonder why Charlie looks like he is greying but it is barn paint! This past Sunday was the huge annual fundraising event at the sanctuary called Daisies for Donkeys. Before this event the barn gets painted and clearly Charlie was helping. Some one should have given him a paint brush! The event includes the sale of daisies as well as yummy home made baked treats to sample and meeting all the wonderful animals. There was a huge crowd this year. Thanks to all who visited. Daisies will also be sold next Sunday for Mother’s Day.


Donkey Communication Part 2

Posted by PrimRose on April 29, 2019 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkeys communicate in other ways then braying and most are quite subtle. When a donkey is unsure or afraid they tend to freeze to analyze the situation to see if it is safe for them. This can look like stubbornness but it is not. Another way of showing uncertainty is pursed lips and the upper lip jutting over the bottom lip. Pleasure and happiness is shown by quivering lips such as from a good scratch. A donkey hug feels like they are leaning against you when getting a good scratch or grooming. Donkey ears move all the time as they listen to sounds around them but both ears flat back and head jutted forward show displeasure almost always directed towards another donkey is regards to food. Depending on the situation such as how many donkeys are around I have pulled up on donkey ears to diffuse the situation. A swinging donkey tail can show agitation or excitement it is important to know your donkey well. It can also mean there are a lot of annoying flies! A common rule when around donkeys is not to walk behind them as donkeys are known for the strength of their kicks. If they experience pain they kick or a defensive move against a predator. Even a fly bite can cause a kick. Generally donkeys are very calm tranquil animals and never mean humans harm!


Donkey Braying

Posted by PrimRose on April 22, 2019 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (1)

When giving tours many visitors ask what it means when a donkey brays. As we get closer to 4pm at the sanctuary the braying becomes more frequent as Sheila should be in the barn kitchen with the kettle boiling preparing evening feed so those brays mean “don’t forget to feed me I am hungry”. But there other occasions the donkeys bray such as when the water buckets are low or if the hay is low in their paddock or perhapsif the hay is inferior quality as in “I can’t eat this!” When the tractor is running and certain paddocks are getting fresh hay the donkeys often bray to remind the driver to bring hay to them. Donkeys will bray to say hello to their humans and to other donkeys. At the sanctuary some donkeys are at the other end of farm for the winter months and when the upper fields open in the spring there is often braying from one end of the farm and answered from the other end sort of “I am still here”and the answer “yes so I am I”. Not all donkeys bray with same frequency it definitely depends on their personalities: the extroverts are loudest! It is interesting to watch a donkey get ready to bray it takes a great inhale of air as the donkeys heehaw on the inhale and exhale. Here is Jack, with his best friend Sara mini, getting ready to bray: his nostrils are flared for the big inhale! He was likely telling me that there had been no treats handed out in quite awhile. He got an answer from the other end of the farm confirming it was the same there!


Donkey Loyalty

Posted by PrimRose on April 16, 2019 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkey are extremely loyal animals, as well as being affectionate and intelligent! While they love their humans donkeys need at least one animal to befriend preferably another donkey or equine such as a mule, hinny or horse. Donkeys have been known to develop relationships with pigs (remember Jed and Penelopig, when Jed was rescued he refused to leave the shed until the hiding pig was rescued too!), but most of the rescued donkeys at the sanctuary have come with another equine. Donkeys will protect their companions from predators and other threats. Instead of running away in fear donkeys will kick, bray and bite a predator even going so far as to stomp on them. It is important when a donkey loses their companion that they are allowed to smell the body after that animal passes away, allowing closure. This can’t be stressed enough as donkeys can die of heartbreak after losing their companion if they don’t know what happens to them. In the photo below standing in pairs at Sara mini and Jack and Grace and Sandy. The big mammoth is Aggie who looks like she is supervising!


Donkey Shapes and Sizes

Posted by PrimRose on April 8, 2019 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Donkeys come in three sizes. On the left is Jack who is a standard. Beside Jack is Aggie who is a mammoth donkey. The little brown one is Sara miniature donkey. While there are no hard and fast rules regarding personality and size, the mammoths seem to be gentle giants.

Donkeys are also very loyal. Jack and Sara came to the sanctuary together and are always in close proximity to each other. Sara is a bit more social then Jack as some minis are, but Finegan (not in the photo) is a slightly larger mini and is not nearly as friendly. Aggie is quite sure that Finegan is her son and they are often close together too! Donkeys are truly fascinating to watch and have a complex social structure.

Come visit Thursdays and Sundays at 1 pm and watch these lovely animals. Or check the website for upcoming special events this spring and summer.



Carolling with the Donkeys

Posted by PrimRose on December 21, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (5)

This annual fundraising event held at the sanctuary was a huge success this year. People came to learn about the animals, sing carols, buy calendars and cards and eat delicious cookies all prepared by volunteers. The generosity this year was overwhelming and is used to care for all the wonderful animals at the farm. It warms my heart to hear there are so many who care about unwanted donkeys. Those of us who volunteer know how interesting, loyal and curious donkeys are: they are wonderful animals.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to all.




Posted by PrimRose on December 4, 2018 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

This is Marble an elderly donkey at the sanctuary. Marble has few teeth left which is how a donkey’s age is determined but it is thought Marble is well into his forties. Marble enjoys the company of Sheyore and the visitors. Feeding time is another favourite as it is near impossible to get nutrition from hay without the ability to chew so Marble gets a large bowl of mush ( horse pellets and water) for meals.

Marble has springhalt which means the very high lifting of the hind hooves/legs when walking. In Marble’s case it is neurological, he can’t sense if his hooves have struck the ground therefore causing the hoof/leg lifting.

Other causes are eating a poisonous plant called false dandelion and sometimes the cause can not be determined.

There are no ill effects but it makes for an uneven gait.

Please click on this link to see Marble in his new blue winter coat going in search of his next meal!



Posted by PrimRose on November 27, 2018 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (1)

Tommy was a mammoth donkey who was 22 years old. He was such a sweet gentle boy. It seems mammoth donkeys are the gentle giants of the donkey world. Did he love the Jennets (female donkeys) at the sanctuary! Tommy had severe arthritis in his front knees that initially made it difficult for him to walk. Sheila got this under control with medication and Tommy began to roam. It seemed he would be at one end of the farm then suddenly at the other end checking out the girls! A particular favourite of Tommy’s was Sally who, everyone who has been to the sanctuary knows, is Oliver’s mother. Oliver was constantly moving between Sally and Tommy. He was not impressed!

Tommy has since passed away, he was greatly loved and now missed by all of us.



Posted by PrimRose on November 18, 2018 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Virgil was a mule (donkey for father, horse for a mother). It is possible the mother was a Shetland pony as Virgil had white socks. Virgil has passed away but there are many memories about him as he had quite a personality. Six years ago Virgil was with the other mules and hinny: Austin, Wilson and Gordon. They were not always kind to Virgil so he was moved in with the other donkeys and mules. Virgil could clear the hay bale with a look so he was first in line but slowly he began to share. He would often do mutual grooming with Finegan and others. Virgil was abused before he came to the sanctuary and he was very cautious with people. If it was dinner time though caution was thrown to the wind as far as coming close to people. Virgil quickly learned that Finegan would eat as quickly as possible so he could finish Virgil’s dinner. Then Virgil would allow us close to him to hold his bowl away from Finegan. One Sunday a muskrat appeared at the sanctuary Virgil was sure the muskrat was a threat and chased him away. On tours we always spoke about Virgil and he would stand just out of reach so he could not be pet. The donkeys are much more accommodating to petting then the mules are.

Virgil was such a handsome boy and had the most soulful eyes and we miss him terribly at the sanctuary.



Posted by PrimRose on November 14, 2018 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Mocha is a beautiful cat who was at the sanctuary too briefly. Sheila found Mocha in the house under a couch and not moving except for her eyes which were very fearful. Mocha was paralyzed. Sheila held Mocha until she passed away and thought she had a stroke. I looked up cat strokes and found very little research has been done on this. There is some thought that cats have similar strokes to humans: hemorrhagic where a blood vessel bursts or ischemic where there is a clot. Sadly there is little that can be done when a cat has a stroke. During Mocha’s brief time at the sanctuary she was loved and cared for.