The PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Tails Blog

Donkey Tails blog is a well written, informative and very interesting blog by volunteer Vivian about PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary and their animals at the wonderful donkey sanctuary in the Roseneath Ontario area. 

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Posted by PrimRose on February 2, 2021 at 6:45 AM

Our hearts are breaking at PrimRose Donkey as PrimRose has passed away. PrimRose was Sheila’s first donkey and they had been together for 27 years. Before joining Sheila, Prim pulled a cart at Black Creek Pioneer Village and was moved to several different farms for about 5 years. PrimRose was the matriarch at the sanctuary. She was such a gentle donkey, many new donkeys would shadow her as she was calming and steady. Prim was a representative as well, walking in parades and fund raising events, visiting seniors homes and fairs. One of the local principals made a bet with his students and if he lost he had to kiss an ass. He lost and Prim came to the school to get kissed! Prim’s birthday was a huge celebration at the sanctuary every August. Prim would don a hat and walk to the yard to have a special birthday cake and lots of pats and cuddles. PrimRose did not accept any trouble or shenanigans from the other donkeys. If she didn’t like what was going on she would walk away, very dignified and ever so slightly haughty. PrimRose had a daughter Jilly who passed away not too long ago. In so many ways Prim had the best of all donkey characteristics: stoic, steady, calm, dependable but most of all so loveable. No one could look in those eyes and not fall in love with PrimRose. Our hearts are broken and it will be so very hard to get past this. We know PrimRose is in a good place and we will treasure her memory forever. Rest In Peace PrimRose. You are with Jilly now and all the other animals from the sanctuary that have gone over the rainbow bridge.


PrimRose and Sheila

PrimRose dressed up with her tiara for her birthday party

PrimRose in the barn (chandeleir in background)

Principle kissing PrimRose


Posted by PrimRose on November 29, 2020 at 6:40 AM

Eddie was a beautiful roan hinny ( donkey mother/horse father) who came to the sanctuary very overweight. He was not fed the proper food which for a donkey is hay. Donkeys were originally desert animals grazing on scrub grasses with low calories. It is important that donkeys can graze continuously but not on high calorie food or they can easily become overweight. This can cause serious health problems such as laminitis and hyperlipaemia. With careful dieting Eddie lost some weight and was able to live the last years of his life with other donkeys particularly Princess donkey who was a close companion. It’s very interesting to see the different personalities of the donkeys at the sanctuary. Eddie was very quiet and calm. Not too much bothered him and he was quite independent. He enjoyed a good scratch and companionship from the volunteers as well as hanging out with Princess donkey. Eddie had the most beautiful soulful brown eyes you could gaze into forever. Rest In Peace Eddie we miss you every day but know you are in a good place.


The very sweet Eddie with his beautiful soulful brown eyes. 

Eddie and Princess grooming each other.

 Eddie and Princess grooming each other.

Noelle and Tabitha

Posted by PrimRose on November 1, 2020 at 6:55 AM

Sadly two of the many cats at the sanctuary have recently gone over the rainbow bridge. Noelle was so old Sheila liked to say she was not sure of her age. Noelle always came to greet me at the sanctuary and seemed to recognize the sound of my car. Her little tongue would stick out because she was so happy. She would often open her mouth as if meowing but nothing would come out. As she lost her teeth due to old age she would still chow down on soft cat food. I will miss her happy little face following me around with her tongue sticking out. Tabitha was very young when she came to the sanctuary. You couldn’t miss her as she had half a tail ( from birth) and her feisty ways. She rushed around the sanctuary as if she was on a mission and she would often go into the fields and forest exploring. Tabitha liked to hide in the hay and I worried she would get bitten by a donkey inadvertently. I remember the first time she was playing in the hay and Gordon was eating: she promptly batted him on the nose and he kept his distance after that. We will all miss these two felines: all have such distinct personalities.

Rest In Peace Noelle and Tabitha


Mule tails

Posted by PrimRose on October 28, 2020 at 7:10 AM

Mule Tails

In the past mules ( donkey father, horse mother) were used by armies as pack and riding animals. In the USA mule tails were cut in bells to indicate training the animal had received. A green unbroken mule had it’s tail shaved. When it was broke as a pack animal a bell was trimmed into its tail. When it was broke to be driven a second bell was added and when it could be ridden a third bell was added. When a soldier looked in a corral full of mules it was easy to figure out which mulewas trained for a specific task. It would be frustrating, to say theleast, to try to ride a mule with one bell in its tail!

Photo credit:

In this photo Daniel donkey is waiting for Sox and Gina to finish breakfast so he can have some hay. Note Sox’s beautiful tail : no bells though!! 


Mutual Grooming

Posted by PrimRose on October 15, 2020 at 11:30 AM

Donkeys love being groomed with a brush by a human but sometimes it takes good hard donkey teeth to get that itch. It’s interesting to watch two donkeys as they get ready to mutually groom. They use their noses to gently move on the other donkey, seeming to ask if it is the right spot. Then they simultaneously begin to use their teeth. Usually it is a bonded pair that groom each other. Grooming helps with itchy skin, insect bites and removing thicker winter hair. Donkeys also use fence poles, stumps and wheelbarrows to scratch on. If a human is available with a brush the donkeys will line up, some more patiently then others, to wait their turns. Here are father and son, Abe and Daniel and mother and daughter, Sandy and Grace mutually grooming!



Posted by PrimRose on October 1, 2020 at 6:15 AM

Carlos is a hinny (donkey mom, horse dad) who has been at the sanctuary for a few years. His previous situation must have been very frightening for him as he remains very cautious around humans today. It’s best not to look Carlos in the eyes and he has a very large personal space that nobody should enter or he walks away. If the person is carrying a halteror lead line that is the absolute worst thing and he runs away, very frightened and worried. Carlos has had various friends over the years and often chose large mules as his protectors. Jessie mule was a favourite friend but she has gone over the rainbow bridge and Carlos has found new friends. It is very important when equines bond to let the surviving partner smell the body once the animal passes away as this gives them closure. Otherwise they can die of a broken heart. Carlos has made a new friend : Blitz miniature horse. As I was grooming Blitz, Carlos figures keeping Star and Moon between us was the best, while still keeping a close eye on me!! Star is in front, Moon behind and Carlos watches me in this photo.





Posted by PrimRose on September 24, 2020 at 8:20 AM

Gordon is a hinny which means he had a donkey for a mother and a horse for a father. He has a slight cross on his back but when he brays there is definitely some horse neighing there too. When I started volunteering at the sanctuary 9 years ago Gordon was curious but very skittish around people. He has come a long way in settling down around people and sometimes even lets people pet him. He and his pals Austin and Wilson mules were separated from the donkeys for a few years as they were not good at sharing hay with the donkeys. Gordon and friends have become much better at sharing and are now in with the donkeys. Gordon is still very curious and loves to know what is going, he follows the tractor or people around to see what they’re doing. Once we built a snowman with equine treats for eyes, Wilson and Austin were afraid but Gordon walked over and ate the eyes! Gordon’s best friend is Wilson, they love to play together and play fight too: rearing, kicking and nipping. Here is Gordon likely looking for the tractor to deliver hay!


Sara and Jack

Posted by PrimRose on September 18, 2020 at 8:25 AM

Sara, miniature donkey and Jack, large standard donkey are best friends. They came to the sanctuary together when their owners had to sell the

farm. Sara is a quiet Jennie but knows how to push in front of Jack if she wants grooming or a good scratch. Jack was a bit pushy when he came to the sanctuary but has settled down and waits his turn for hay and grooming although he does line up to remind you not to forget him. Sara and Jack are always together and show how donkeys need another donkey as a companion and how very loyal they are. Separating a bonded pair is very negative for both animals and they can literally die of a broken heart. Here is Sara posing for a photo and Jack giving his cutest, I amstarving, don’t me forget me if you have a treat face!


Sara posing

Jack giving his cutest, I am starving, don’t me forget me if you have a treat face!


Posted by PrimRose on September 10, 2020 at 7:25 AM

This is Lily a standard donkey and daughter of Sara Rose who has gone over the rainbow bridge. A standard donkey is usually 92-123 cm in height in between a miniature and mammoth donkey. Standard donkeys have been used as beasts of burden and pulling carts. As Lily gets older she’s starting to look more and more like her mother. She has a broad back and is dark brown. Lily has a wonderful personality: she is friendly and loves being groomed. She follows along when she wants something usually an ear scratch until she gets one. Lily has in interesting habit when getting groomed: she preens her neck away from the brush and looks over her shoulder. Today she was hanging out with the miniature donkeys: Amelia Bedelia and Rosie. When they went down to the hay bale to join Charlie, Lily went along! In both photos Lily must be listening to something behind her!



Posted by PrimRose on September 4, 2020 at 7:35 AM

Aggie is a mammoth donkey who lives at the sanctuary with her best friend Finegan. To be classified as mammoth a jennet(female donkey) must

be at least 13.2 hands high(137 cm). Mammoth donkeys were bred to be tall and strong to do agricultural work in the past. They were bred by mating several large European breeds such as Poitou and the Catalan donkeys. More recently mammoths have been used to drag selectively logged trees from forests. As both these tasks are not done using animals these days mammoth donkeys are becoming rare. Aggie is a gentle giant. She loves being groomed and while waiting for breakfast she follows along to make sure she is not forgotten. She has a very loud bray to make sure her call for breakfast is heard! Another way she makes sure she is not forgotten is to stand right in front of you, forget personal space and social distancing! Aggie has one of sweetest gentlest personalities at the sanctuary!