Whilst on the subject of Donkeys I must mention the wonderful Agia Marina Donkey Sanctuary which is located on the south coast of Crete near Phaistos and Matala, and is a loving retirement home for elderly, sick, unwanted and abused donkeys.
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 labour 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 new found freedom their personalities emerge and strong bonds of friendship form between them.
If you are visiting the ancient site of Phaistos, or the famous sandstone caves of Matala, 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. If you aren’t able to visit the sanctuary you can still help the elderly donkeys of Crete (and Barbara even managed to organise the transportation of one from North Greece). A donation of any size is always gratefully received and donkey related gifts can be bought on-line 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”. Our first “Villas Crete Holidays” sponsored donkey, Ermioni, sdaly passed away in early 2015, but our second sponsored donkey, Kleo, is still going strong and is as cheeky as ever! We are most grateful to Barbara and Fanis for providing such an extraordinarily happy and loving environment to the donkeys in their final years.
In addition to rescuing donkeys, Barbara and Fanis are also kept busy rescuing and re-homing abandoned dogs and cats!
For more information, to arrange a visit, or to make a donation, please contact the sanctuary at:
Phone: (0030) 28920 42556
Mobile: (0030) 6949168763