Donkey Sanctuary Aruba - Atlas Obscura

Donkey Sanctuary Aruba

Santa Cruz, Aruba

A safe place for the wild donkeys of a hot vacation destination. 


In the rough desert interior of an island known for its beaches, the Aruba Donkey Sanctuary houses and cares for some of the island’s most vulnerable early immigrants.

These adorable equines were brought to the island as beasts of burden during the colonial era and then, when their usefulness came to an end, they were released to fend for themselves. They thrived in packs until overpopulation made them a nuisance. Many of the “wild” donkeys were shot, fed to visiting circus animals and hit by cars. On top of that, their population was decimated by disease, and they nearly died out.

However, in the mid-twentieth century, a movement began to save the Aruban donkeys, and today the humble non-profit sanctuary provides food, shelter, and medical care to almost two hundred animals. Visitors can feed (sold on site in $1 and $3 containers) and pet the donkeys, and locals are encouraged to adopt them.

Know Before You Go

Take route 4A from the hotels. At the Pizza Hut in Paradera take a left turn. At the second intersection, just before Ayo Rock formation, you will find the white/brown road signs to the sanctuary.

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