Category Archives: Nature

Winter tales


Winter Tales is just a play on words as at “El Paraiso del Burro” there are so many tales:  most are happy ones and many are wagging and wafting tales of different shapes, sizes and colours!


How is the winter progressing for our followers?  The beginning of February was rather stormy in Asturias, with the arrival of heavy snow, although we were lucky enough not to get any snow here at El Paraiso del Burro as we are a not so far above sea level. However, the snow can be seen all around us and some parts of Asturias were totally cut off by deep snowfall.  Furthermore, the main road just below the sanctuary is now closed indefinitely due to a landslide following heavy rain.  The donkeys have spent a lot of time indoors in January and February and so, when the sun finally came out this last week, the donkeys especially were very glad to get back out into the fields.

ChuloCalimero and Fito

In January we received two new donkeys all the way from the Pays Basque: the lovely Burri and her daughter Burriki.  Both were well loved but unfortunately their previous owners were unable to keep them and contacted us.

Burri Burriki1

Work continues of course and our willing volunteers are always busy, with stable cleaning and animal care especially high on the list.  This month there are new apple trees to be planted and continuing work to provide new pathways.  As you can see from the photos, the pathway leading to the cabin is coming along well and provides a much safer route and a new path is also being constructed behind the house to provide a dry route through an unusually muddy area.  Unfortunately, in the process of laying the path, part of it gave way due to water erosion and now a new drain will have to be put in to divert the water away.

Path to cabinPath behind housethe hole

I hope you enjoy these photos of the landscape and the animals enjoying the sunshine after the rain.

View of snowy peaksWikke at the gate


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.

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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.

ALL ABOUT AISHA By Catherina Davis

AISHA, is one of the dogs that i met and spent time with every day during my time at paraiso del burro. When i left the sanctuary after being there for nearly two years the memory and the love i felt for aisha was always with me.Through conversations with Marleen and planning, my friend  Christian and i made the epic journey from Ireland by boat to collect Aisha and it was worth it .

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Thank you Aisha for being in my life. You show me the way and shine the light with your open heart and gentle energy..I will forever love you.

Below is a slideshow of photos from the time we spent in Spain along with other volunteers, our journey by boat with my friend Christian and some photos of AISHA in Ireland.

gazpacho…A story of loyality paid for.. by Marleen


A complicated double jaw fracture, an operation, three days at the horse hospital and a full month of intensive care – those were the consequences of Gazpacho’s loyalty to the two horses in whose footsteps he faithfully follows day by day.

How come his fidelity made the old mule suffer so badly? Well, the young stallion living in the adjacent field jumped the fence to mount one of our mares. Brave Gazpacho came to her rescue and was kicked in the face. So he paid for of his lady’s short sexual adventure. Hopefully now the neighbour’s insurance will pay up for him!

Gazpacho was rescued some years ago in the mountains around Oviedo where he roamed the commons in a group of horses. He thinks he is a horse and he looks like a horse. But his call gives him away; he produces a unique mixture of a whinny and a bray: a brinney. Here, in the Donkey Paradise, he always follows the horses and doesn’t ever lower himself to the donkey level. Also he would keep a sound distance from us, human animals.

Fortunately his fear of people has melted away. When he now sees one of us, especially at mealtime, he will brinney and let himself into the yard for his (still soaked) bowl of food. He also allows us to give him his medication and clean his wound twice a day. Chances are the jawbone will heal itself over time and he will again be able to chew his food. So: all is well that ends well …


This robust new inhabitant of Donkey Paradise was called Carillo – founder of the Spanish communist party during the civil war. As he is such a friendly old fellow, his name is now Cariño. Anyway, we don’t think he notices the difference!

His owner, now 89 years old, couldn’t take care of him any longer and so her daughter started searching the internet until she found our donkey sanctuary. Both mother and daughter loved their hairy friend very much and wanted only the best for him and the rest of his life.

Cariño is still very shy and he prefers to stay away a little from the other donkeys. But Caoimhe and he seem to like each other; therefore they share the little stable apart from all the others. His coat needs cleaning and his hooves need to be trimmed, but all in good time!




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,



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Mariano is the farrier that comes to the sanctuary to work on the donkeys, horses and mules hooves.Being physically strong in lifting the donkeys legs,clipping and cleaning their hooves,fitting them with horse shoes for extra support,is one aspect of being a farrier.Being a gentle warm hearted person who puts the animals first and allows them the time to feel comfortable is just some of Mariano,s natural qualities. Thank you Mariano.Here is a slideshow of Mariano at work on the sanctuary.

Happy Animals Happy People 2012 By Catherina Davis

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Below is a slideshow of photos taken during 2012 on Paraiso Del Burro.

TALES OF ONE CAT AND THREE KITTENS written by Catherina Davis

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It is not only donkeys that come to live here at Donkey Paradise. We have some new additions to our big family of animals. We have a 3 years Old Persian cat called Julie that has been here some months. Julie’s owners were moving house from Asturias to the south of Spain and asked Marleen if there would be a home for Julie here. Julie is a very affectionate cat and likes to sleep on a silk pillow in the house. She is outside during the day but sleeps in the house at night-time
During one of our evening routines of collecting the donkeys, Astrid, liana and Eline were staying in the cabana with their parents. As they walked through the field in search of donkeys, they suddenly heard a cat calling out. Near the stream at the cabana they found a tiny kitten that was in a bad state. They carried her back to show Marleen. Her eyes were completely closed and infected. We cleaned her eyes and gave her food, which she ate so quickly. The next day Marleen brought her to the vet where they removed 60 ticks. She also had fleas which the vet treated and cat flu. Antibiotics and eye drops were given to her every day. Marleen kept her in her room to keep her separated from Julie as cat flu is contagious to other cats.Marleen called her Canela (cinnamon in English). Once canelas flu had cleared up, Julie who was staying in my room came to staying in the rest of the house with Canela. At first Julie was not too sure of this little kitten running around and wanting to play with her, but over time they seemed to enjoy each other’s company and played games running around the house. After a few weeks of this we noticed that Julie did not seem happy. Although she got the attention of people coming in to the house during the day and evening she didn’t appear very happy. Julie started to become annoyed with Canela who being a curious little kitten wanted the company of another cat to play with as well as the games and attention of us. It was evident to see how sad she had become. Marleen sent an email to her previous owners to inform them of the change in Julie’s behaviour. They contacted Marleen back and were deeply saddened by what was happening and would make arrangements if possible to have Julie back with them.
Marleen was contacted by Anjo and bob that help in giving refuge and rehome dogs and cats and two little kittens that were abandoned were looking for a new home. With the arrival of two new kittens and the condition that Julie was in we felt the best thing to do was to move Julie back to my room where she could be by herself and keep me company too! It took some time for Julie to feel comfortable again but with one person looking after her and having her own space she started to come out of herself again. She is so much happier again and I call her my princess (mi princessa) as I feel this suits her personality better.
With the arrival of two new kittens it was a lot of fun to see. Canela bonded with the playful brothers straight away and what beauty could be seen in the simplicity and the natural progression of watching Pepper, Ginger and Canela play, chasing each other up and down the stairs and taking little naps when they were tired.
My princess remained in my room and last month she moved over to the cabana to live with Michael. I brought her over with me when I stayed there over Christmas to see how she would feel in her new home. Princessa adapted straight away in her new space and when Michael returned from his Christmas holidays he was more than happy with his new cat friend.canela pepper (4)