Donkey Care

What we do

Donkey teams-Peter Ray's 067

Australia’s original refuge provides professional care 7 days a week, and has saved many hundreds of these endearingly gentle animals from appalling conditions. The GSDS is dedicated to providing professional and intensive care for injured and traumatised donkeys while also creating a refuge for those who are orphaned, abandoned, starved or unwanted.

By only using professional equine and veterinary practitioners, dentists, farriers and chiropractors, we ensure the very finest of attention is available to all the donkeys at our Sanctuary.

Many arrive here after labouring against starvation, deafness, loss of vision and deliberate cruelty – any animal that arrives in poor condition is put into the ICU until it is well enough to be released into the general herd.

We don’t receive government support so we rely entirely on the kindness of people like you. Without such aid we cannot survive and these most loving of animals will be left to suffer in silence.


The best food for donkeys is gained through grazing on natural grasses and…
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Each donkey is de-wormed every 10 to 12 weeks depending on the weather and…
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Equine Dentist

A qualified equine dentist is employed on a regular basis…
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Insect Repellants

Every donkey is dusted with insecticidal powder every three weeks…
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Veterinary Care

Veterinary care is one of those ongoing costs that’s impossible to predict…
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Donkeys are also de-loused on arrival and as necessary during…
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Equine Chiropractor

Some donkeys coming into GSDS have suffered minor to serious jolts or injuries…
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Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

Many of the donkeys need special attention on arrival…
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Safe Shelter

Donkeys in distress or old donkeys should always have access to shelter…
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Hoof Care

Most donkeys need their hoofs trimmed at 8-12 weekly intervals determined by…
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General Routine

As well as morning and evening feeds for donkeys in the ICU, the stables…
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Education and Handling

Lots of love and praise are essential for a donkey’s security and wellbeing…
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Why is there a need for a donkey sanctuary?

Donkeys arriving at the sanctuary are not sweet darling donkeys already trained for riding, cute little pets or pedigreed stock. Most donkeys arriving here have a range of problems from health to management and handling. Many have not had their feet done in many years and some have never been attended to by an equine dentist and many have not been handled at all or have been badly handled which leads to many management problems. It can take many, many months after arriving at the sanctuary for these donkeys to be rehabilitated. Gentling procedures can take from weeks to many months for us to be able to handle some donkeys with safety. All this takes time and effort and a lot of specialised work as each donkey is different and reacts differently depending on its temperament and how he/she was handled or mishandled before arriving here. Some donkeys are so fearful that they can be dangerous and a lot of consideration and proper management is required to get each and every donkey manageable. Some come around much better than others, depending on each of their temperaments, their age and many other factors come into it. Not all training methods suit every donkey, so all this has to be figured out and it all takes time. We never rush new, nervous or unhandled donkeys, all rehabilitation is done in their own time.

Are donkeys as stubborn as the media portrays them?

Donkeys are highly intelligent – their reputation for being stubborn is merely the donkey making a choice not to do the requested task. Donkeys are incredibly affectionate animals, especially towards humans, so you just need to make them want to oblige!

How long do donkeys live?

In reasonable conditions, and in reasonable health, they will live to between 35 and 40 years, although they have been know to live into their 50’s. Donkeys subjected to constant hard work will generally have a much shorter life, probably between 20 and 25 years. So taking on a donkey is a long-term commitment, and could almost be called a ‘companion for life’.

How long have donkeys been used as work animals?

Donkeys were the first domesticated animal, around 3000 BC. As well as being strong and able to transport heavy loads, they are often used as ‘guardians’ to protect herds of sheep and goats from wild dogs. It is estimated that there are 40 million donkeys worldwide.

What is the difference between a mule and a hinny?

A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. A hinny is the offspring of a female donkey and a male horse. They’re usually smaller than mules.

What do donkeys eat?

Donkeys are much less fussy eaters than horses, able to munch through scrub much like a goat. They do very well in the Australian bush where there’s lot of diversity of both grass and roughage.

Why do you trim donkeys hooves?

A donkey’s hoof will continue to grow unless it is worn down by walking on rocky surfaces. It will eventually lead to lameness as the hoof grows at an angle, the donkey doesn’t just get taller!!  Donkeys living on grass paddocks are especially susceptible to this problem. A rocky ground also helps keep their feet dry, preventing infections that can grow in a constantly moist environment.