Every animal lover has visited their fair share of animal rescues, but I’d bet money that you’ve never been to a Donkey Sanctuary before! First off, make sure you spend a day driving around Aruba’s east coast. Not far from the entrance to Arikok National Park, off of a dirt road (which starts off fairly steep, FYI) you’ll find a desert solace that 100+ donkeys are lucky to call home.
The donkeys were not originally native to the island, but were brought here as a form of transportation many years ago. With the advent of cars, there was less and less need for donkeys and people saw them more as a nuisance than anything, leading many to be hit by cars, accidentally hurt, or worse yet, intentionally poisoned. In 1997, the entirely volunteer run organization was born and to date they are caring for over 130 donkeys, with the goal to rescue the remainder of the island’s estimated 100 wild donkeys.
This was a highlight of our day. We fed the donkeys and learned about their history and plight on the island. The animals were super friendly and very eager for us to feed them some treats. They certainly had some big personalities!
To find the sanctuary, look up Cunucu Arubiano (a hotel). The sanctuary is directly behind the hotel, and you can park near the hotel entrance and walk a few minutes up the road since the road is a bit rough. It should also be noted that the volunteer we talked to said that they would be moving to a different, bigger facility in the future, so be sure to double check the location before your visit! There is no entrance fee, but be sure to bring a few dollars to donate to the cause.
Featured Photo Credit: Tara Turner