This place is a safe haven for old and/or unwanted donkeys and it was great to see that the donkeys can spend the rest of their lives in peace instead of having to deal with crowds of noisy tourists or hard physical labor. For me, this is a new must-see in the south of Crete and a place to support.
A family-run sanctuary for donkeys in need
It all started over 15 years ago when Barbara & Fanis were asked to rescue a small donkey that belonged to a local farmer in their 90s who could no longer take care of him. They named her Olive and built her a small stable in the olive grove next to the house. It was an ideal place for a donkey to feel safe and so over the years, this wonderful place has developed with many loving animals – the Agia Maria Donkey Sanctuary.
Donkeys have been used for 1000’s of years in Greece to carry people, firewood, bags of olives, bales of hay, and to pull ploughs, but these days many poor old Greek donkeys are being replaced by motor vehicles.
After long, hard lives working every day, sadly many are being abandoned by the roadside, or tied to a tree in the hot sun without food or water, or even sent off on “meat trucks”.
Thankfully for some of these lovely old creatures, there is a haven where they happily can live out their last years. Founded in 2006 by Barbara Doulyerakis, an amazing lady who is originally from New Zealand, and her charming Cretan husband, Fanis, The Agia Marina Donkey Sanctuary is a family-run labor of love that is a Greek registered non-profit charity that receives no government funding and relies entirely on the fundraising that they do locally and donations from the public.
Barbara’s long-time dream to help needy donkeys is now a beautiful reality. The donkeys that she rescues often have injuries from years of mistreatment and most have never seen a vet.
Arriving at the sanctuary must be a dream come true for these deserving animals. For the first time, they have an abundant supply of delicious food, veterinary and dental treatment, the company of other donkeys, love and care from their human protectors, and the chance to run (if they are well enough) and roam freely in a safe olive grove after years of being hobbled or tied up. The joy that the donkeys feel is evident, and as they get used to their newfound freedom their personalities emerge, and strong bonds of friendship form between them.
Visit the donkey sanctuary in South Crete, close to Kamilari
If you are visiting our area, I highly recommend that you spend a little time at the sanctuary. Not only can you have fun feeding the donkeys (don’t forget to take some apples or carrots with you!), but you can also see the peacocks, peahens, ducks, geese, French hens, cats, and dogs that have made their home there.
Children of all ages are welcome to the sanctuary, as long as they are supervised by parents at all times. The donkeys are well-natured, however, care should be taken while feeding them and interacting with them.
Also, a donation of any size is always gratefully received and donkey-related gifts can be bought online from their Donk E-Shop. If you are looking for a special present either for yourself or a loved one you can “Adopt/Sponsor a Rescue Donkey”.
For more information, to arrange a visit, or to make a donation, please contact the sanctuary at:
Agia Marina Donkey Sanctuary
0030 694 916 8763