The Donkey Sanctuary – Review for families

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What is it?

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The Donkey Sanctuary is an international charity with the mission of caring for donkeys. As a day out, Devon’s Slade Farm is the heart of the charity and home to 500 of the rescued donkeys currently being cared for. Find it in Sidmouth, East Devon. The Sat Nav postcode is EX10 0NU.

Best for:

Babies / Toddlers & Preschool

OK for:

5 – 8 / 9 – 12 / 12+

Cost

It’s free, but it welcomes donations. Please consider donating carefully, as this is not your average attraction.

What’s on offer

The donkeys and mules rescued and cared for by the sanctuary live across the huge grounds and various barns visitors are allowed to explore. Guests can simply view the donkeys and spot the different kinds of donkey or meet the donkeys in the Main Yard. A lot of these donkeys have been rescued from tragic conditions and therefore, have quite the story to tell, which can be heard through a guided tour or on picture boards. Of course, their tale of survival is uplifting rather than depressing.

In addition, there are plenty of other wildlife to witness, including a lovely nature centre which…

If you aren’t visiting purely for the donkeys, why not get lost in the maze with your little ones, get them practicing their walking skills on one of the pleasant walking trails or pay £1 at the entrance for a map containing the details of a child-friendly treasure hunt. Various events are on at the sanctuary throughout the year. Please consult the calendar for full details of what’s on and when.

On site, you can find a restaurant with a specific children’s menu, called the Hayloft. If you’d prefer to eat your own food, there are picnic areas dotted around for you to use. Finally, there is a gift shop. Typical – but these purchases go towards furthering the sanctuary’s cause.

Facilities include pushchair accessible site, public toilets and free parking nearby.

Highlights

All of the animals appear to be happy and well cared for, which is important when considering a visit to an attraction featuring live animals. Getting close to the animals is important to, which you can do by visiting the Main Yard and petting the donkeys. If you want to adopt a donkey for you child, you actually can. Just speak to a member of staff for details.

The donkeys are also surprisingly friendly! One TripAdvisor user says if you arrive to the sanctuary in a bad mood, you’ll definitely be leaving in a good mood!

What to watch out for

– The Donkey Sanctuary is dog and bike friendly, so please keep an eye out if this presents a problem for you.

– There’s lots of donkey-petting opportunities here, so don’t forget to keep your child’s hands sanitized using the gel dispensers dotted around the site.

– There aren’t many entertainment activities for older children, here. 

MFM tips:

– The sanctuary is right next to Sidmouth in East Devon, which has plenty to do for a full family day out.

– Visit some of East Devon’s top quality family attractions such as Escot ParkWorld of Country LifeSeaton Tramway and Pecorama.

What the owners say

“We currently have an incredible 5,800 donkeys in our care. Come and meet some of the 500 living here at Slade Farm, they can’t wait to meet you!

Our donkeys love to meet new people and you can discover their unique characters and stories. Can you find the gentle giant Poitou donkeys, or our gorgeous adoption donkeys? Come and cuddle our main yard donkeys or spot a miniature in one of the fields!”

Visit the official Donkey Sanctuary website

More attractions in Devon:

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The BIG Sheep
Milky Way Adventure Park
Watermouth Castle
Powderham Castle
Haldon Forest Park
Diggerland

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