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Another day in paradise….Camille Moller

Just another day in paradise

I wake up to the sound of my alarm telling me that now is the time to start yet another shiny day. Still feeling sleepy, I stumble out to find a random pair of boots and greet the now so familiar faces of the other volunteers with a smile and a yawnish “good morning.” The air is sharp and our breath turns into white fog as we start the morning routine here at the Donkey Paradise. Everybody knows what to do, so the first feeding of the day is usually a smooth operation. I tick off stable 4 and go to give my furry friends Rocco, Mini-Maggie, Franka, Lola and Xana a round of hay and their everyday morning-scratch. As always, they are waiting impatiently at their gate, giving the impression that they have not had food for at least a week. Each has their own peculiar sound, ranging from Xana’s profound screams to Rocco’s almost asthmatic wheezing. Once fed, the donkeys calm down and the routine proceeds. When all of the donkeys, horses, mules, cats, dogs and pig have had their breakfast, us humans get started with our feast. Rumor has it that Marleen cooks the best porridge in Asturias, and I have found no reason to disagree.

After cleaning the stables out (hopefully without having to throw out too many donkeys trying to steal the fresh straw), we all work on different projects. The projects range from improving stable buildings to taking Stevie the Pig out for a food frenzy under the chestnut tree. Today, I go to the garden in order to battle some of the wheat that tries to take back the stone lane, listening to music meanwhile and letting my mind wander off. I think about how working here does not feel like working at all. It is like living in a bubble surrounded by snow-covered mountains, a place where anything can happen. Waking up to fields covered in mysterious fog and sitting out at nighttime watching shooting stars on the starry sky sets your imagination free. Some days I wouldn’t even be surprised to meet dancing elves in the surrounding forest or see a unicorn stand majestically in the horizon. Here anything seems possible… and, as one of the other volunteers put it, this is not only a shelter for donkeys, it is also a shelter for people. There is room for everyone, as long as they have a kind heart and a gentle approach to animals. In other words, it is a place where you can feel free to be you.

And then, after finishing the day’s work and relaxing in the evening with a glass of wine or a dance instructed by our Polish swing-king, we go out for the last evening round. I stand quiet for a moment, listen to the gentle sounds of the donkeys nibbling their fresh straw and I wonder. I wonder how a place so far from home so quickly can turn into feeling just as safe and beloved. Like coming from one home to another. My usually so ever-restless heart falls quiet for a moment as I draw in a breath of the fresh Asturian air. Then I give my donkey buddies a last goodnight kiss, turn off the lights and start walking towards the warm house. Just another day in donkey paradise has come to its end.


Photos of Camille with Mia, by Dominic Fleischmann

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.

The Music of Brian Smith at the “Paraiso del Burro”

On Friday 20th September at 5 p.m. the “Paraiso del Burro” will be the location for a performance by Brian Smith – a singer-songwriter from the USA.

You are invited to come along and enjoy his music in a peaceful and beautiful location and to bring with you some food and drink to share.
You are also invited to bring along family and friends. There is no entry charge and the hat will be passed around after the performance.



Marcelo the Magnificent… Catherina

Out of the sunny blue sky you arrived here,
As you needed a home to be safe and warm,
You came from a rubbish dump which was quite near,
But your past situation was far from the norm.

You had suffered a great deal and had a lot to bear,
The wounds and scars from the past were clear to see,
Then the light shone through kind hands that care,
And this is how it came to be.

A beautiful lost soul appeared at donkey paradise,
Food, water and love in an environment to nourish,
Your road to happiness was starting to look nice,
This was the place where you could flourish.


Marleen and Marcelo

Marcelo arrived here in September 2011 from Gijon. The age of Marcelo is unknown but we know he was an old donkey. A woman called Leo, who lived in an apartment overlooking the dump had noticed Marcelo and was concerned for his welfare. Leo had been so kind and gave him food and water as no one else appeared to do so. She witnessed a few people that would pass by and beat him. She had no space to keep Marcelo herself and did not want to leave him there. Leo found out who owned Marcelo and bought him off the farmer. Leo contacted Marleen to come and collect him straight away in order to give him a good home.
In mid January 2012 Marcello became ill with bronchitis and fluid in his lungs. His breathing became heavier and in spite of all the help form Marleen, the volunteers, vet visits and medication Marcello died naturally on Saturday 25th February 2012.

Dean and Marcelo