Help for Donkeys on the Island of Corfu: The Donkey Rescue Station

Corfu is the most northern of the seven Ionic Islands of Greece and has about 113.000 inhabitants. Its capital is called Kerkira (Corfu-Town). The economy is mainly based on the cultivation of olives, wine and fruit and, above all, on tourism.

And Corfu would not be Corfu without donkeys. About 600 of these animals live and work hard on the island where they are used by the farmers mainly in agriculture: They have to carry heavy loads during the crop of olives as well as for the transportation of fruit and firewood.

After they have been used as mere work animals for long strenuous years the old, worn-out and mostly sick donkeys are no longer of value for the farmers`families and are simply put out in the wilderness where -now completely on their own- they painfully die of thurst and hunger.

Another way to get rid of them is to sell them for a small profit to animal dealers who again will sell them on to South Italy for being slaughtered.

Depending on the state of health a donkey disposed of in that way will sell for a profit between 20 and 80 Euros for its former owner.

The Corfu Donkey Rescue Station

The story began about 3 years ago.

Judy Quin (from Great Britain but living on Corfu) is walking with her dog along a road with heavy traffic. On several consecutive days she watches a female donkey obviously belonging to nobody but with a loose rope around the neck. The animal is sick, lame and totally neglected.

Judy decides to help the donkey and takes it to the place for homeless dogs where she works. A few weeks later a second donkey arrives –a ”gift” by an old Greek woman who is no longer able to take care of her animal.

After some time Judy manages to convey both donkeys to a British donkey resort. Rather quickly the news spreads on the island that there is a very active British woman who takes care of neglected donkeys.

Within a few months there are 22 donkeys taken into Judy`s care: sick and old animals which are found somewhere after having been disposed of.

The first rescue station was a rather scantly place not tolerated by neighbours, so in May 2005 Judy takes her animals and moves on to Kavrolimni where she founds the Corfu Donkey Rescue (CDR).

Since the 99 donkeys have found a new place to live. Broken legs are splinted, wounds are healed, and donkeys that once were hopeless cases have turned to creatures enjoying life again. In the meantime 54 donkeys could be transferred to safe places where they are taken care of. The CDR presently still has 41 donkeys to look after.

Assistant with donkey

Due to missing hoof care many donkeys have to die every year on account of back pain and disfunction of legs because the farmers are too poor to pay a blacksmith.


Therefore, the Corfu Donkey Rescue regularly send a blacksmith to where donkeys live. Animals` Angels pay the blacksmith for his work, and the farmers have to contribute to the costs with at least 5 Euros. To sums up, the Corfu Donkey Rescue run and administered by Judy Quin as a whole manages the Following tasks:

  • Rescue Station: Medical aid for old, sick and wounded donkeys within the station and accommodation for donkeys which cannot be given away anymore.
  • Outreach Clinic: Care by veterinarians who go to farmers and keepers of donkeys.
  • Training: Instruction and advice for farmers and donkey owners enabling them to treat their animals adequately.

Rehabilitation for donkeys

Out of a number of about 600 donkeys on Corfu up to 100 animals per year were disposed of by means of animals transports to Italy to be slaughtered resulting in constant new breeding of donkeys. At the same time “old” animals were not cared for anymore but were sent on the transports, often with broken links.

Meanwhile, the “use” of donkeys could be lowered drastically. As a result the number of animals sent on slaughter transports has reduced remarkably.

How the Animal Protection Foundation Wolfgang Bösche helps

The Corfu Donkey Rescue is still being built up. Here the old and sick donkeys left on their own get extensive and loving care by Judy Quin and her co-Workers.

A detailed report by Animals` Angels about the Donkey Rescue Station (Info-Letter 3/2006) caught the attention of Wolfgang Bösche and Iris Roth. Whilst spending a vacation on Corfu they also happened to find donkeys standing around somewhere on the sideway obviously not belonging to anybody and totally neglected. Based on these observations the Board of the Animal Rescue Station in its work with clear purposes.

With this in mind Wolfgang Bösche contacted Mr. Michael Blanke from Animals` Angels. Working together, the discussed different possibilities of effective support.

In the first place, the plan was aiming at an immediate, practical and long-lasting assistance.

According to information by Mr. Blanke the Donkey Rescue presently faces the two following problems.

1. Water supply
During the summer months countless buckets with water had to be carried to the donkeys. The pasture grounds which belong to the CDR dry out very quickly in the Greek summer and do not have any running water. To carry all those buckets was very laborious and time-consuming and took a lot of physical strength. The precious time could have been used better on other tasks for the wellbeing of the animals.

An amount of 2.500,– Euros has, therefore, been made available by the Animals Protection Foundation. It was used for the purchase of a new pump/water container and a trailer.

The old pump station which was only borrowed had to be given back by Mrs. Quin. With help of the new equipment water can be made available easily and can then be brought on to the thirsty animals.

Water supply

2. Transportation of animals needing help

Quite often Mrs. Quin is taken to donkeys lying on the ground somewhere, hurt or old. They must be taken up on their legs to be treated or loaded on a trailer to be taken to a veterinarian or to the Rescue Station.

In the past, those animals simply died on the roadside.

By dedicating a further amount of 1.500,– Euros the Animals Protection Foundation enabled the Rescue Station to buy a portable and foldable hoist which can be transported to the donkeys by car.