Honouring Unsung Heroes: Donkey Sanctuary Marks World Donkey Day on Manda Island


On this World Donkey Day, The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya is honouring the vital role of working donkeys and their indispensable contribution to the lives of people across Kenya.


This year’s theme is “Punda Poa, Kazi Poa” which is a Swahili phrase to mean if your donkey is healthy or in good welfare then it will do a great job for you.



To commemorate this significant day, The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya is hosting a special event in the village of Manda-Maweni on Manda Island, one of the islands comprising the Lamu Archipelago.


The village is home to approximately 120 donkeys. These gentle creatures play a crucial role in the local community, primarily tasked with transporting heavy coral stone and ballast from nearby quarries to the seaport. Additionally, they assist in fetching and transporting water and carrying essential household goods from the shore to inland villages.



The labour performed by Manda-Maweni’s donkeys leaves them susceptible to a range of welfare issues such as sores due to inadequate harnessing, cart-related injuries, and lameness.



The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya is committed to improving the welfare of working donkeys. Therefore, as part of the event, The Donkey Sanctuary’s dedicated veterinary team in collaboration with the County Government of Lamu are providing comprehensive health checks and treatments to donkeys in need, alongside distributing nutritious feed to ensure their well-being and vitality.



Moreover, The Donkey Sanctuary has joined forces with the Lamu Art and Theatre Alliance (LATA) to deliver a captivating interactive drama piece to the residents of Manda. This engaging performance aims to promote understanding of donkeys as sentient beings with the capacity to experience a wide range of emotional responses to events or situations. This is important because evidence suggests that owners who recognize sentience in their donkeys are more likely to work in a manner that is good for their welfare.



The drama was collaboratively developed by LATA and researchers from the University of Portsmouth, incorporating valuable insights from Lamu’s donkey owners. This marks the first-time the performance is being showcased in Manda, following its successful debut on Lamu Island.

Audiences can expect an accessible and entertaining medium of theatre, coupled with impactful messaging that celebrates the intrinsic value of these beloved creatures and advocates for their well-being.



Dr Solomon Onyango, the Country Director for The Donkey Sanctuary Kenya stated that “As we come together to celebrate World Donkey Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to protecting and cherishing these noble animals who play an irreplaceable role in the fabric of our society.”



The Donkey Sanctuary is an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of donkeys and mules worldwide. We provide lifelong care to over 7,000 donkeys in the UK and Europe, and reach many more globally through our international programmes and partnerships. Our colleagues are based all over the world and we work with a global network of partners, NGOs and governments, who share our vision of a world where every donkey has a good quality of life.



The Donkey Sanctuary has been working in Kenya since 1987, where our mission remains to improve the welfare of donkeys and, in doing so, help safeguard the livelihood of millions of people who depend on donkeys for their everyday sustenance.

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