Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire – Caribbean, Netherlands - Atlas Obscura
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Caribbean, Netherlands

Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire

A sanctuary for sickly, stray, or wounded donkeys. 

While the Netherlands island of Bonaire is known for its fantastic diving, but inland from the more popular coastal attractions is an adorable sanctuary for an animal that doesn’t often get the love it deserves. The Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire is a protected area where the island’s burros can live in peace.

The sanctuary was established in 1993 by Dutch couple Marina Melis and Ed Koopman. The pair built a number of facilities by hand including a windmill, stables, and a gift shop to create a self-sufficient environment where their asses could relax. Donkeys came to the island with European settlers and now it harbors a relatively healthy population of wild burros. The sanctuary seeks out sickly, stray, or wounded donkeys wandering the island and bring them back to their compound, where the animals can be cared for and nursed back to health. At any given time the sanctuary is home to around 400 donkeys, many literally chomping at the bit to get better. 

Visitors and donkey fans are welcome at the sanctuary. Carrots are available in the gift shop to feed to the hundreds of hungry donkeys, along with donkey milk soaps, lotions, and other fun Bonaire gifts and souvenirs. The fenced area in the front of the sanctuary has animals currently being rehabilitated, as well as foals and mums. You can feed the hungry animals, but with hundreds of the beasts swarming around, it might get a little hairy quickly.

Donkeys are usually seen as slow, lumbering pack animals. It’s nice to know that even they have their own island getaway.  

Know Before You Go

Directions From the airfield, follow the coastal road in a southerly direction. Take the left-hand turn direction Sorobon on the Kaya Ir. R. Statius van Eps. You will find the entrance to Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire just 2 kilometers further on your left-hand side.