The world’s largest donkey sanctuary has launched an appeal to help buy special headwear to protect its animals – from flies.
Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary in Devon cares for over 2,000 old, retired and infirm donkeys and mules.
But this year’s heatwave followed by a damp spell has seen a huge boom in the fly population.
The sanctuary’s donkeys have struggled to cope so the charity is hoping to buy hundreds of special ”fly fringes”.
They are place around the animals’ heads and have long colourful fringes which fall around the face to help keep the insects away.
Annie Brown, general farm manager at the sanctuary, said they need £2,500 to help keep the donkeys fly-free.
She said: ”Our elderly donkeys are quite arthritic and find it hard to move and stamp their feet or shake their heads to get rid of the flies that gather around their eyes.
”With no facial protection, their eyes water constantly, which in turn makes their faces very sore.
”We’ve sourced a fly fringe that’s safe for the donkeys to wear in their field which has a special velcro strip that will release if the fringe gets caught on a fence or branch.
”We have about 500 elderly donkeys in our care who could all be comforted by wearing a fly fringe over the coming months so we’re appealing to our supporters for help.
”Each fly mask costs around #5 so we are looking to raise #2,500 which will be specifically used to help our donkeys who will be given a better quality of life without the flies causing her distress.”
The current appeal comes during one of the sanctuary’s busiest ever years with more than 200 donkeys being taken in during June and July.
Annie said: ”Just this year, the number of donkeys coming into the sanctuary has doubled. It’s due to the recession – people can’t afford to keep them any more.”
To help the fly fringe appeal visit www.justgiving.com/donkeysanctuary-fly-fringesor call 01395 578222.