Donkeys were imported to Bonaire in the 16th century to work in the island’s salt trade, but as technology improved, their use diminished and the donkeys were set free.
In 1993 Dutch Nationals, Marina Melis and her husband Ed Koopman, established a donkey sanctuary on Bonaire for sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys: Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire.
The primary objective of Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire is to offer a sheltered, protected life to all the donkeys of Bonaire. Their information about the lives and experiences of donkeys is also raising awareness amongst the local community, schools and tourists.
When a report arrives about a live wild donkey in distress, volunteers are sent to the rescue. Sick and wounded animals are nursed and, where necessary, a vet is called upon to give medical attention. Orphaned foals are raised with a baby bottle. All stallions that arrive at the sanctuary are castrated to avoid expansion of the numbers of donkeys in care. Once the animals are recovered, they are lucky enough to spend the rest of their lives lovingly cared for at Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire.
You are very welcome to visit Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire. They are happy to welcome you in their little shop and tell you about the work that they do. Here you can also buy nice souvenirs of which all profits of course benefit the donkeys.
Next you can make a tour with your own car amongst the hundreds of donkeys in the big park. The animals will gladly come over to meet you and to put their snouts through the car windows, hoping you brought them something nice to eat. If like you can buy carrots from the shop to feed to the donkeys. If you do so, you will definitely make many new friends in a minute!
The special care meadow is only accessible by foot. Here you find the donkeys that need extra care, for example because of an injury or illness. Also moms with their foals and little orphaned foals that they raise by bottle feeding them are in this meadow.
Besides they have a garden where you can admire iguanas and tortoises. At last you can order a drink or snack and relax on the attractive terrace, in the shade of a palapa roof made of dried palm leaves. From there you enjoy a wonderful view on the salt lake, in which almost always flamingos can be seen.
Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire is open for visitors daily from 10 AM until 5PM. Entrance is possible until 4PM. Your tour can be done by car, scooter of bike. Of course you can also make a walk through the park. Quads are not allowed.
All in all, an enjoyable and informative attraction for all ages!
Sources: International Donkey Sanctuary/Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary