Category Archives: Death of an animal friend

Rosie, with love……………by Marleen

Saying goodbye to Rosie was hard for me; writing about her isn’t easy either. She meant a lot to all of us.

Four years ago we collected her from a place where she had nothing: no food, water, cover or care. Due to long-term neglect she was forced to step on the front of her hooves, which meant that she couldn´t move at all.  Also she was infested with fleas.

Our farrier made her special irons with high heels and her feet were encouraged back into normal position slowly, bit by bit.  Slowly also, she regained her confidence in people.

Years passed in which Rosie enjoyed her life in the Donkey Paradise. Gradually, walking became more difficult for her, yet she liked to walk up the hill to graze every day.  Last summer she became the emblem of Ian and Louis´s action ´Caring for Rosie´, which raised 1600€ for all the donkeys. A fantastic result!

When donkey baby Rocco arrived, Rosie was appointed to adopt him, because he lost his mum too early on.  She did that with increasing patience and commitment but her feet and legs started to give her more and more pain.  In the end she stopped walking altogether and just spent her days in the yard. When she also stopped eating with pleasure, we knew it was time for her to go to the real Donkey Paradise… She didn´t go alone, though, for much love from all the volunteers accompanied her. Rosie will never be forgotten.

Brave Bella by volunteer, Trudy Kelly


Brave Bella

Just two months ago, Bella, a large, scared, sick mare, was rescued from neglect.  She was under-nourished, nervous, nearly blind and lacking care in her sad, sick, state.   Good fortune finally found Bella, when she was taken in by Marleen to sanctuary at Donkey Paradise where love and care awaited.  She was given her own stable, clean water, nourishing food, good grazing, veterinary care and the human kindness she deserved.   Although she remained aloof to other animals, preferring to graze alone, slowly she built her trust back in humans to allow the care she desperately needed.  Simone devotedly treated her hoofs and suppurating wounds: regularly and lovingly cleaning, treating, dressing and binding.  Her big brown eyes, clouded with cataracts and weepy, were gently washed.

This week the hard decision came as she lay down unable to rise one morning:  Bella’s once strong body now so frail.  The time was now due to relieve her from anymore suffering. She was put to sleep with Simone by her side, and slipped away peacefully at Donkey Paradise.

Animals are amongst life’s great teachers – Bella’s lessons included courage, gentleness and the willingness to trust again. Whilst here in sanctuary at Donkey Paradise, we trust Bella felt compassion and unconditional love in return, if only for a brief period, in the last chapter of her life.   RIP ‘Brave Bella’

A tribute to Alex the “Amazing Donkey”, by Trudy Kelly

Thursday 19th February.

‘Amazing’is the honoury cap that fits our departed furry friend Alex who lost his life battle today:  his spirit still willing but body so weak.

His time to go to Donkey Heaven.  He fought each day as if it was his last.

Tobias (or Toby), his much younger faithful companion, was always near his side braying loud and furiously if the old fella was stuck and couldn’t get up unaided.

Alex was handsome, chestnut brown, with distinguished white spots; he often held his head low but walked tall with a lean frame and straight legs housing small, short hooves.  He arrived at Donkey Paradise 7 years ago, his previous life unknown, but soon became the old gentleman in the stable with no malice, kicks or bites.  His loves included: morning Porridge which he willing shared with Toby, grazing and roaming the highest terrain in paradise whilst taking pride he always knew the best ways down, being cuddled and groomed and having a full belly.

Toby knew Alex’s moods so well, how he was feeling, how much energy he held.  If the old man stayed in the stable too long Toby would come back for him, and nudge him to ‘come on mate – it’s nice outside, let’s go and eat grass.’

Two days Alex battled, we turned him, held him, placed him, covered him, gave him pain relief and showed him how much he was loved.  He slipped away slowly and peacefully, with donkey’s circling him and his faithful mate Toby and people who cared by his side.

Inseparable:  Alex (front of photo) eating straw with Tobias.

Inseparable: Alex (front of photo) eating straw with Tobias.

RIP ‘Amazing Alex’ xx

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



For Lyka, in memoriam

Dear Lyka,

We, the volunteers of ‘The Donkey Paradise’, were all so happy and excited when you arrived here last summer. We found you the sweetest, most beautiful and shy little donkey we’d ever seen with your shining black coat and modest little face. Mia, from Sweden, immediately fell in love with you and took some beautiful photos!

You were not very outgoing or curious. It was as if you took everything you found here for granted, you didn’t mingle much with the other donkeys. The first few weeks you would even prefer to go behind one of the caravans, and stay out of sight for most of the day. Later you would show more of yourself, and by ‘round up-time’ would come down by yourself and go to your ‘own’ place in stable 3.

Then we started taking yóu for granted. Expecting you to go on living with us forever after. You decided otherwise. One January day you didn’t like your food as usual, sniffed it, nipped a little, didn’t eat your normal quantity. We checked your temperature, which was normal, and gave you two aspirins dissolved in water and lots of honey. You swallowed this stoically. The next day it rained a lot, so all the donkeys had to stay indoors. You seemed restless, walked around in your stable, wanted to go out. We let you out, which seemed to calm you down, and you walked up to your hill as usual and came back as usual. Again you didn’t want to eat, again we gave you honey and aspirines. We also called in the vet to come and see you the following morning.

But there was no need for him to come. You died. We found you dead and cold the next morning. All of us were shocked by your sudden death.

We miss you, Lyka. You will always be remembered by all the volunteers who knew you.

With love,


MELLOW MARCO By Catherina Davis

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Marco who was a donkey here at Paraiso Del Burro has passed away. He had been here for three years. Marco was rescued by Marleen after been seen by volunteers from Amigos del Perros in Gijon. The girls had noticed the condition that Marco was living in and decided to take the appropriate action to help him. His present situation was one of sadness as he was left tied to a tree with no food or water. Amigos del perros contacted Marleen to see if she would help to give him a new home.
Marleen travelled to Gijon to collect him and Marco arrived back safe and sound in his new home. When he was here in the start he had epileptic fits and from time to time he appeared absent minded. Sometimes you would approach him to say hello and his eyes looked different than before with almost a blue tinge of colour that reflected deep in his eyes. Once Marco had been here and was adapting to his new home the epileptic fits started to get less and less.
Although his epilepsy was not as frequent as before, this may have been the cause of his death. The evening before he died I walked him back to the stable. He looked different and walked even more slowly than usual. As we took our time and I walked the same speed as Marco it was clear to see that he was unwell. He only ate two mouthfuls of his food and did not want to eat anymore. When Marleen checked on him later he was lying down and she put a blanket over him to keep him warm. During some time in the night Marco died.
Marco made new friends here but he liked to spend a lot of time on his own walking around the fields. I have fond memories of him being here and reaching up to eat the apples of the trees. He was a quiet little donkey and seemed to like the attention of the volunteers especially getting his coat brushed. He had a sore knee which became swollen and a support bandage was put on to help relieve the pain. He walked slow but still managed to get around with his big ears that hung forward on his head. I feel this was a part of his character as when you would be walking the dogs in the field or working in the stable ,when Marco was present he liked to follow you around and when you looked behind you would see this sensitive almost slightly sad little face looking at you. These are the thing i will miss about Marco as his presence was captured in the essence of his beauty.



Deva was a dog who lived with us at the Paraiso del Burro. Marleen who owns the sanctuary took her in and Deva was given a loving home for four months. She was found in a state of severe malnurishment and had to be given small meals five times a day to gently build her weight back up again. In spite of her poor health, Deva became a little stronger and the beauty of her presence and the unconditional pure love she had in her heart always remained strong. Sadly deva died as she was old and had health problems. Deva was cared for and loved by Marleen and all of the volunteers who came to the sanctuary while she was there. Deva will be missed by Marleen, Catherina , Michael, Judith, Judith and all of those who met her.
Below a slide show of Deva in all her glory!

Jip’s Memoir’s…………………………by Catherina Davis

This February we had to say goodbye to another dear old friend,Jip and we will miss him dearly. This is Catherina’s tribute to Jip as written in his own words:-
Just Thinking

Hello, my name is Jip. It is nearly my time to leave this world, so I have decided with the help of my good friend Catherina, who is a volunteer here at Paraiso Del Burro to translate my story from donkey language to English so you can read what I have to say about chapters of my life….

I am 41 years of age which in donkey age is quite old. Before I came here, for part of my life I lived with a group of cows on a farm. I worked on the farm with helping to carry loads in a cart and general farming duties. At the age of 30 I went into retirement as I started to suffer from Osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease as a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint or a normal result of aging. It is also caused by wear and tear on the joint. Cartilage is a firm rubbery tissue that cushions your bones at the joint and allows bones to glide over one another. If the cartilage breaks down and wears away the bones rub together. This causes pain, swelling and stiffness. The ligaments and muscles around the joint become weaker and stiffer. As you can see I am quite knowledgeable about osteoarthritis, because of my retirement I had extra time to read up on the subject!

Although it seemed alright, I did find it difficult as being a donkey I did not speak cow language and felt a longing for living with other donkeys. We are a type of sociable animal and build up a very close bond with one another. So as I lived each day and accepted my cow friends, I dreamt of pastures new and felt the need to travel a bit more. I feel I am a wanderer of sorts.

My dream came true one day when this friendly Dutch woman called Marleen Verhoef came to see me. She said she had a sanctuary and wanted to know if I would like to come and live at her place where there were other donkeys too. I felt so excited and felt such happiness inside. Marleen said she would come back and collect me in a few days. Then the day came and Marleen returned and I got into the donkey trailer box. We travelled for quite a distance but I didn’t mind that, as I was able to look out and see new places and I had been given straw to eat in case I got hungry along the way.

I arrived at Paraiso Del Burro and was lead out into the field. I took a long look around and then I saw some donkeys in the distance. They approached to greet me. One was called Joep and the others were named Norbert, Thesa, Kees, Claar and Grietje. They took me on a tour around the place and told me the daily routine of what happens here. It sounded so good, I felt so overwhelmed by it all.
I fitted in straight away because of the friendliness of Marleen, the volunteers and my new donkey friends. My life could not get any better than this. We get alfalfa in the morning, and then we go out and wander around the fields for the day, eat grass or have a sit down and rest to take in the beautiful view. In the evening we are brought into the stables and we each receive a bowl of food which consists of apples, carrots, ginger, beetroot pulp, bran, sunflower oil and grain. After we eat our food they fill up the feeding troughs with straw and refill our water buckets. Then we rest for the evening. I have been here four years now and over those years some of my friends have died of old age and more donkeys have come and as we have become a bigger group the volunteers built another stable to give us all enough room to live comfortably.


One of my favourite days is Monday as my good friend Lynn Waterhouse comes to brush us. I love to be brushed and especially getting my ears and face massaged. Lynn is so kind and gentle and I always stand there in the field while she does this. I have been nicknamed “Jippy the hippy” as I have a long haired coat and some of the hair on my lower belly and legs started to get dreadlocks, because of my legs being tender and sore I do not really like my hair to be brushed there. During the summer two of the volunteers here, Ineke and Dean Kincaid had the job of cutting off my dreadlocks and trimming my coat slightly, so now I am back to being called Jip again.

The farrier Mariano comes every week to clip our hooves. When it is my turn I do not really like it and because of my Osteoarthritis, it hurts my beck legs for them to be touched and held when my hooves are clipped. So I kick out really fast for Mariano to stay away. We, donkeys can kick backwards and sideways also. I am pretty quick and fast for an older donkey!!. Mariano said I am like “Jackie Chan” and I took this as a compliment. Over time I have allowed Mariano to clip my hooves as I trust him and he allows me the time to offer my legs to him without force. I do not mind the treatment so much now as he likes to sing to us while he is at work and I know he would not hurt me. As I have said before I do have stiff muscles and tendons so Mariano had to fit horse shoes on in order for me to straighten my back legs more and to help me to walk better. It seems to have worked.

Michael and Alan administer the medicine

A few weeks ago I got an infection in my hoof so Mariano and the vet came to look at me. It was painful and I was given medication for that. The infection was so far up in my hoof that the vet had to clean it and wrap it up as to not have further infection. I did have difficulty in walking. One night I fell in the stable. Marleen, Catherina, John, Alan and Michael all helped in lifting me up. I did end up injuring my front leg when I fell.

Jip in the hoist

During the days that passed I was unable to stand at all. My legs were so weak and all the volunteers would help me up to sit and eat. They tried in helping me to stand but I am a big donkey so Michael found a new way to lift me up with the use of scaffolding frame and very strong ropes to suspend and support me. This seemed to work well to begin with and I could stretch my legs and try to stand while being completely supported. Everyone came to help me to get up and get the straps on twice a day but I began to notice myself I was becoming weaker and weaker. I tried so hard, mentally I knew I was strong enough but physically my body was spiraling towards not being able to overcome this. I am old. I am the oldest donkey here and with all the love, help and attention that has been given to me here, my body just could not do it anymore.

Catherina keeps me company

It is my time to go and as I lie here now with Catherina writing my story, I ask her not to be sad for me and it is time to let me go. I have had such a good life here. I will miss my friends but it is Survival of the fittest and nature is calling me.

By Catherina Davis
Volunteer worker at Paraisio Del Burro.

Marleen brings my deal friend Joep to say “Goodbye”