The Caribbean Island of Aruba is 19.5 miles long and 6 miles across at its widest point. One would think that it would be hard to get lost in such a small area of land. One would think wrong. We were looking for something to do other than going to a beach, and our tourist map showed a large image of a donkey along with the words “Aruban Donkey Sanctuary.” However, we were missing a detailed map, and we had no general knowledge of how the roads were laid out on the island. Even those with a strong sense of direction were stumped.
While Aruba’s road system is well maintained, its road signage is lacking. Signs pointing the way to attractions or other roads are few and far between, so when driving, bring a map and don’t be afraid to ask for directions. We did eventually make it to the sanctuary – after two hours of driving around something that should only have been 20 minutes away.
Once we reached the sanctuary we were greeted by around fifty donkeys, ranging from babies to elderly. A dedicated volunteer sitting on the porch gave us a description of the organization and place while we watched and pet the donkeys.
Donkeys are like deer in Aruba, always wandering in places they shouldn’t be and getting hit by vehicles. The sanctuary strives to give a safe, uninhabited piece of land for them to live.
Feeding donkeys at the Aruban Donkey Sanctuary is unlike feeding a dog or even a horse. When you feed donkeys, you lock yourself behind a high fence on the porch, wave a bucket of food and wait for the stampede to attack. A few animals will gently take a mouthful, but most will push their way to the front to eat the entire bucket full. Hungry donkeys are not that different than hungry humans.
The donkey sanctuary runs off donations and “adoptions” of donkeys by visitors and locals. It’s free to visit but the gift shop is filled with donkey themed items as well as feed to purchase for the donkeys ($3). The sanctuary is open weekdays from 9-4 and weekends 10-3. You can check them out at their Facebook page or their website.
If you can manage to navigate it, I highly recommend a visit especially for young ones who might love the stampede of feeding time!