The Turtle Valley Donkey Refuge is celebrating its seventh year at a farm in Turtle Valley.
However, the refuge’s founders, Shirley Mainprize and Robert Miller, aren’t the only ones celebrating. On May 25, the refuge’s mini herd celebrated their first time on pasture in 2021, as did the standard herd.
The refuge, a non-profit operation that provides a permanent home for donkeys in need, has been closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mainprize, however, is hopeful things will return to normal soon. She said the donkeys miss the extra human contact and that the refuge is looking into having controlled visits in July and August if public health measures allow it.
Despite the pandemic, Mainprize said the refuge’s donors have been incredibly supportive and that it is running well. There are more than 100 donkeys at the refuge and the founders, staff and volunteers are kept busy providing 24/7 care to the animals.
Mainprize said there’s a donkey in their care who has a spine curvature problem and that it often needs help to stand up when it’s stuck.
When Mainprize and Miller got their first donkey in 1999, they had no idea that running a donkey sanctuary would become a full-time job, but they couldn’t be happier.
“It was never about creating a paying job,” said Mainprize. “We love the donkeys, we love what we do.”