ALFRED0 – Little old fellow……………… Marleen

Friends of the Donkey Paradise spotted an old little donkey in a country lane, in the blazing sun without water or anything to eat. So they stopped to give him some water. Only then did they see that his hooves were extremely long – too long for him to walk. So they contacted us and asked us what could be done.

One of our volunteers went to see the animal straight away. He also contacted our farrier, who came and cut the donkey’s hooves. Fortunately little old Alfredo was then brought over to the Donkey Paradise, where he will be taken good care of from now on. Little by little he is settling in.

On the photo: Nico (brown), another very old donkey, has come over to welcome Alfredo (white) in the Donkey Paradise.

Most of our donkeys are elderly and require a lot of car. We are a small charity and we depend upon donations to continue our work. If you would like to sponsor one of our donkeys you can find more details on this blog or on our website. Your help is needed and is greatly appreciated.

Caring for a donkey’s feet

The majority of the donkeys we welcome to El Paraiso del Burro have problems with their hooves, many of which are severe, as they have never been seen by a farrier before.  Donkeys naturally live in dry, stony conditions and are not used to the damp atmosphere and green pastures of Asturias.  Their feet absorb more water than a horse’s hoof and they are prone to Laminitis and to wounds and infections of the foot.  It is therefore important to check the hooves of the donkeys on a regular basis in order to be able to act quickly to stop infection from spreading and to keep the hoof as clean as possible.   


The donkeys at El Paraiso del Burro are seen by a farrier four times a year and, in between, we check and clean the hooves of all the donkeys.  Frieda has some severe problems due to poor care in her past.  Here we can see Frieda’s foot being cleaned by Simone to remove dirt and stones; the foot is then washed with sterile water, a “frog” antiseptic is used to prevent the spread of any infection and Simone then covers her foot with a pad to help support her legs and to keep her feet clean during the day.  At night, when Frieda returns to the clean, dry stable, her pads are removed so that the air can circulate around the foot. 


Frieda is a good donkey.  She is used to standing quite still whilst her feet are cleaned.  At first she is not too keen to walk on her “pads” but very quickly she adapts and seems to walk better as the foot is less sore.


Donkey Art T-shirts

From left to right: Margaret (Ireland), Helma (Holland), Sandra (Madrid), Ria (Holland), Marleen (Asturias), Juanma (Asturias). In the front: Simone (Italy) and Lynn (Asturias).

From left to right: Margaret (Ireland), Helma (Holland), Sandra (Madrid), Ria (Holland), Marleen (Asturias), Juanma (Asturias). In the front: Simone (Italy) and Lynn (Asturias).

The t-shirts we now have for sale to visitors of the donkey sanctuary are a great success. In less than a month we have already sold out some of the models and colours! In the photo the volunteers at our August Open Day are wearing some of the models. The print was designed by Lidia Fanjul, a young Asturian artist who gives art workshops.

Summer post – New friends and Old friends

It has been a very busy couple of months at the Donkey Paradise, but luckily there have also been lots of wonderful volunteers from all over Europe, and beyond, to help with the work and activities.  Also, Marleen was happy to have her daughter, Grietje, and her family over for a holiday with her and the animals.

Fito (left) says hello to Matias (right)

Fito (left) says hello to Matias (right)

We have a lovely new donkey called Matias.  He is quite old and unfortunately has not had a good life so he will need some care and attention but he already has a kind sponsor – Ria.  He was very wary at first but he is responding to love and attention and he has the loudest bray which Marleen likens to the siren of a boat in the fog!

Ria in the centre with Marleen (right) and Sandra (left)

Rias in the centre with Marleen (right) and Sandra (left)

Some dear friends of the Donkey Paradise, Frank and Helma came again from Holland for their summer holiday, which is more like a working holiday.  This time they brought with them an enormous trailer loaded with goodies – a beautiful wooden house and a car port.  The car port will be used mainly as a shelter for the dogs as it can get extremely hot here in the summer months.  Thank you to Helma and Frank and to those who helped them in the erecting of these buildings.  The summer house will have a special use – more about this in a later blog. 

Frank and Helma prepare the roof tiles

Frank and Helma prepare the roof tiles

Look out Frank!!

Look out Frank!!

It looks great

It looks great

At the beginning of August we held our Open Day and this was well-attended and enjoyed by donkeys and visitors alike.  Perhaps you can pick out some of the donkeys you know in these photos.

Yara and Sandra

Yara and Sandra

Open Day donkey picnic

Open Day donkey picnic

Donkeys and visitors together

Donkeys and visitors together

Not much left!!

Not much left!!

In memory of Norbert …………………………….by Lynn

Last week, a well-loved donkey, Norbert, passed away naturally of old-age. Everyone loved Norbert.  He was the gentle giant and we will miss him dearly as he has lived at the Paraiso practically since the beginning when Marleen had only a few donkeys.  Norbert was very old, as are most of the donkeys here, but up until the end he enjoyed his food and he liked to go outside in the fresh air for a few hours each day.  He had great patience and a calm manner.  His great friend was Jelle and they were always together until Jelle died a few years ago now.  In memory of Norbert, of Jelle, and of all the donkeys who have been with us for a while but sadly are no longer with us, here are some photos of various corners of the Donkey Paradise that they will have passed by over the years.

bullrush Damsel fly Eco loo Garden - cabana manzanas Meditation pool Norbert feb 2013 Picnic table puente reflexions Sleeping statue Stump

Kate’s pictorial memories of El Paraiso del Burro

Many of the volunteers, who come to El Paraíso del Burro to work, enjoy taking photos of the animals and the environment to remind them of their stay.  Such photos often give us a different perspective on life at the refuge and are greatly valued and enjoyed for this reason.  

These beautiful photos have been shared by volunteer Kate who came here in the springtime. Kate was happy for us to share her photos with you and we hope that you will enjoy them as much as we do.

IMG_5693xxx IMG_5610xxxIMG_5707xxx IMG_5737xxx IMG_5759xxx IMG_5821xxxx IMG_5860ccc IMG_5894xxx IMG_6424xxxx IMG_6456xxx IMG_6485xxx IMG_6638zz IMG_6651cccc IMG_6828xxx IMG_6963mm IMG_6985xxx IMG_7004xxx IMG_7011xxx mm xxx

Adios, Lua……………………….Marleen

It was love at first sight, Lua. When I looked into your eyes, I knew your place was with me.


You settled in well with the dogs, cats, donkeys and horses. After years of being tied down, you enjoyed your freedom here and even jumped and played around like a giant puppy.


And then the limping started. I didn’t think much of it at first, but it turned out to be the worst of the worst: bone cancer in your shoulder – very painful, very fast growing. You lost your regained joy of life and even stopped liking your food. So the vet came to end your life in the best possible way, given the circumstances.


I had to let you go but I think of you each and every day.  I will love you always, Lua ……….adiós.Image

Donkey Care International………………….by Marleen

Love for donkeys is not just a Dutch thing, judging by the volunteers in our Donkey Paradise who come from all over the world.
At this moment for instance we have volunteers from Spain (of course!), England, Sweden, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and Venezuela. In the past we also had helpers from Australia, United States, New-Zealand, Lithuania, Finland and even China!

It’s always a great experience to get to know people from other countries and cultures, although the language that we speak in the Donkey Paradise is sometimes a strange mix of everything!

Front left to right: Alice (Sweden), Simon (U.K.), Isabel (Spain), Daniel (Venezuela) Back left to right: Chiara (Italy), Kim (Belgium), Rita (Hungaria), Lisa (Sweden)

Front left to right: Alice (Sweden), Simon (U.K.), Isabel (Spain), Daniel (Venezuela)
Back left to right: Chiara (Italy), Kim (Belgium), Rita (Hungaria), Lisa (Sweden)

Dogs running for donkeys………………………….by Marleen


It was the last Sunday of March in Celorio, Llanes, in cold and sometimes rainy weather, when about 50 dog owners and their excited dogs ran the first CANICROSS of eastern Asturias. The couples ran over different distances and one event even involved cycling with a dog. The event was closed after the final run, in which children ran with their pets over a distance of about half a kilometer.

The “Llanes Canicross” was a charity event; the money paid for participation was destined for the donkeys of the Donkey Paradise. For this great initiative and the fantastic result, amounting to 350 Euros, we would like to thank the organisers and the participants – humans and animals – from our hearts!





Thank you to Anuska for taking the photographs.

Our first Art Workshop

Sunday 30th March was a beautiful sunny day for the first “Art Workshop” to be held at the Paraíso del Burro.  The event was a relaxed and happy affair with a mix of adults and children taking part.  The event leader was Lydia who demonstrated the techniques needed to create and print some wonderful pictures, mainly relating to animals and nature but totally personal and without the need for any previous experience. 

In the morning we learned how to create our pictures using a variety of materials which were glued into place onto thick card.  Almost any material can be used: card, fabrics, ribbon, flowers, tea, coffee…  You are totally free to let your imagination flow.

All work stopped for lunch and everyone enjoyed a picnic in the open air with a variety of food provided by all in attendance and shared between everyone – both volunteers and those attending the workshop.

The afternoon session involved the printing of the prepared work and the revealing of the finished article.  Once your picture has been created it has to be painted over with a water-based paint and prepared in readiness for printing.  It is then covered with dampened printing paper and passed through the “press”.  This was the most exciting part of the day for everyone as they peeled back the paper to reveal the finished article to gasps of amazement and joy. 

What a fabulous day we all had and grateful thanks go out to Anuska for organizing the event and to Lydia for supplying all the materials and demonstrating the techniques in such a clear and patient manner.

The artwork will be on display and available for purchase at our next Open Day on Sunday 6th April from 12pm.ImageImageImageImageImage


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