BEHIND a small wooden gate in the hills above La Cala de Mijas you’ll find the sort of place donkeys might dream about.

Because it is here, at Donkey Dreamland where these long-eared velvet-nosed creatures are given a second chance at life.

In the 18 months since opening in August 2020, the place has been a sanctuary for 29 donkeys, many of them rescued from a life of abuse.

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Small wooden gate to Mijas’s Donkey heaven (Image: The Olive Press)

Of these, 17 donkeys have found permanent homes after being cared for and restored to full health exemplifying the organisation’s slogan ‘Rescue, Recuperate and Rehome’. 

“All are living the lives they deserve with families who care for and pamper them,” Amaya Isert, the founder of Donkey Dreamland told the Olive Press.

The 44-year-old from Granada told the Olive Press that she returned to Spain to fulfil a lifelong dream of creating a donkey sanctuary.

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Amaya getting ‘donkey hugs’ from Rita (Image: The Olive Press)

“They have always had a huge place in both my life and my heart,” she explained, recalling memories of playing with donkeys as a child in the Alpujarras.

“I sailed the seven seas for 20 years as a cook on luxury yachts, but I have always had this project at the back of my mind.”

The refuge consists of two hectares of land with a large stable block and several outdoor fenced enclosures, each named after Andalucian cities.

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Flor and Julieta in Sevilla (Image: The Olive Press)

The charity has around 20 volunteers – almost all of whom are expats living in the area – and is funded through paid visits to the sanctuary as well as from donations.

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Julieta and Flor being groomed by volunteer Lisa and founder Isert (Image: Olive Press)

For €35 visitors are invited to spend two hours at the place, walking the donkeys around the hills, grooming and feeding them as well as enjoying your own typical Spanish breakfast.

There are also sound healing sessions among the donkeys as well as yoga workshops.

Yoga Workshop
Workshop among donkeys (Image: Donkey Dreamland’s Facebook)

On all visits, Isert shares her knowledge of donkeys and the often heartbreaking stories of individual donkeys lives before they came to the shelter.

Of all the donkeys in the shelter at the moment – like Julieta, Flor, Venus or Rita – Olivia is the one that deserves most of the attention.

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Long-eared velvet-nosed Rita (Image: Donkey Dreamland’s Facebook)

“She is our latest rescue donkey and as the pictures show, she is one of the worst cases we have had so far”, a Facebook post reads.

This Andalucian donkey was abandoned in the area of Campanillas (Malaga) where she was found starving and ravaged by dogs after she attempted to share their food.

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Bruised Olivia after being cured (Image: The Olive Press)

But besides the visible wounds, dermatitis and bruises, Olivia also requires leg surgery due to Laminitis – a harsh disease due to hoof rot as well as poor basic care and mobility.

In order to pay her operation and veterinary costs, the charity has set up a donation fund – gofund.me/ff006c99 – with a goal of €3,190.

Thanks to the donations made so far and the money raised from visitors to the sanctuary, €1,770 has been already raised. 

Donkey Olivia
Olivia and Amaya sunbathing (Image: The Olive Press)

Donkey Dreamland is encouraging animal lovers to make a donation or come and visit the place and find out more about these lovely creatures.

Maybe you’ll fall in love with one and decide to give them a new and loving home!

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