We had every intention of going to auction in the spring of 2020, stepping up for a donkey, a draft, or a mule in need. And then Covid-19 forced us to take a bit of a detour.

At first, as contributions decreased and positive cases of Covid increased, we thought there was no way we could possibly pull off our 2020 equine rescue. Like most rescues and sanctuaries, we had enough worries about finances and daily care.

But then, you rallied beside us. And with that rally, came the realization that at such a critical time, the animals needed us to do more, to be more and to give more than ever. Not being able to personally attend the sales did not mean there weren't lives awaiting rescue. Quite the contrary. The decrease in attendance only meant more risk to the animals who found themselves there.

At a time when it would have been easier to let fear be our guide,
we chose courage, standing tall beside each of you.
We opened our arms and welcomed several donkeys
in need to Tomten Farm and Sanctuary.

When the universe knocks, you open the door. So when an out-of-state rescuer we knew of stepped up for several auction lives that a trader was eager to unload and then lifted up her own card for other needy lives at the sale, we noticed.

While there is a "shortage" of donkeys here in the Northeast, in the Southern Central parts of the U.S. there is a "surplus." The few private auction buyers are most often seeking horses and there are definitely far more donkeys in need than there are homes. I can only assume that it is due to the current slaughterhouse crisis and a lack of demand caused by a hold on the export of donkey skins (see sidebar) due to the pandemic.

Normally, had these not been unprecedented times, Tomten Farm and Sanctuary would never consider a long-distance rescue much less two in five weeks. In fact, this is a first for us and it's also our largest equine rescue to date.

So what motivated us to consider this never-before-done endeavor knowing full well that there are indeed lives at risk everywhere and our preference is usually to step up for those in our community and close to home?

The answer is there was a fortunate confluence of favorable factors:

  • New York auctions were canceled
  • A shipping trailer was already heading for New England
  • The opportunity gave us the chance to help another rescuer be able to step up for more donkeys from high risk sales
  • Even with the travel costs, Coggins and  CVIs (health certificates), the expense would be no more than it would have cost us to personally attend auction and rescue from those closest to us in NY or PA
  • And finally, our hearts told us we simply could not say no to the scared, unhandled and malnourished lives awaiting our care

And so we welcomed, Elroy H. Johnson (The H stands for Hee Haw)
and Ella Mae Braybelle. And, wait for it… two became three
when Ella Mae was confirmed pregnant!

Yet, we could not get the two other donkeys that were there and left behind out of our minds. Nor could we stop discussing the needy souls just pulled from the sale, saved in the nick of time before starvation hit. Unhandled and afraid they were not the type of donkey that most homes would welcome. The emaciated chocolate jennie had lost her foal right after the sale and her older friend was assumed to be pregnant; all tired and leery, desperately seeking peace, protection and possibility.

One last trailer was headed our way before the heat of summer arrived. Together with you, we once again made the impossible possible. We took a deep breath and leapt! Our total donkey rescues went from two to three to seven, but it may not end there. While not confirmed, it seems the additional three jennies may be pregnant which could bring our total to ten.

Six lives (and a possibility of four more on the way!)
welcomed during an unprecedented and uncertain
time of history in the making!

We invite you to join us on their journey as they find their way to friendship and family, health, happiness and tomorrows. Two are in far better condition than we hoped for, two in far worse and two are what we've come to expect in high-risk donkeys. But we have no doubts all will flourish with care.

We couldn't do this without you, the magic makers, who gaze upon the stars and stand beside us to make wishes come true. Thank you for being part of Tomten Farm and Sanctuary. Enjoy these images of their first moments upon arrival, knowing they signify a new beginning. Be sure to keep up with their progress on Facebook and Instagram as little by little we make a difference to these donkeys in need.

Read the story of the arrival our first Tomten donkeys, Figaro Brayburn,
Beatice Poppins Braymore and Baby Braymore

Destination: Peace, Protection and Possibility

Every animal that is part of Tomten is an ambassador, each raising awareness of the human failures that lead to animal suffering. Each helping us find a reason and a way to be more, do more and give more every day.

Most of the time when we rescue, we have a unique story to share about the animal's life. But in the case of these donkeys, we have a very short trail of their past. THEIR story is more about being seen as more valuable dead than alive.

So while we may not have their lifetime stories to share, they still have a very important lesson to teach.

While these six (and the foals some of the jennies are presumed to be carrying) are now safe, thousands of others will not be as lucky. And though we are not activists, we feel a responsibility to seize this opportunity to alert you to the number one threat to donkeys. It's part of why we will do all we can to make dreams come true for this fortunate group of survivors.

What is the #1 threat to donkeys?
One word: Ejaio.

Donkeys are losing their lives at an alarming rate. Slaughtered for their skins to make ejaio. What is this exotic sounding product?

EJIAO is an ingredient in a traditional medicine of China.

It's made with donkey-hide gelatin or ass-hide glue obtained by soaking and stewing the skin of 4+ million donkeys per year.  And though we know you would never purchase it, you can, in fact, even find ejiao on Amazon! According to an article in the Scientific American link below* "if the current pace continues, more than half of the world's donkeys would need to be slaughtered in the next five years to feed China's demand for ejiao." Imagine, more than half the world's donkeys, gone! Evidence can already be seen locally with observations of far fewer donkey here in the northeast than in the past.

But this is not a story about China. It's a story about members of a kind, sensitive species needlessly dying in astronomical numbers. And the United States is also culpable. Our country is the THIRD largest importer of ejiao.

This is why we do what we do. And why we work so hard to do it. And why we recruit your much needed support. Support which, this time, helped us step up for not one, not two but 6+ at-risk lives. We share this information with you not for its shock value but to encourage thought, understanding and change about things that, with everything else going on in the world, may have slipped right past you. And it's why there is still (and probably always will be) a need for responsible Rescue.

We hope this information gives you another reason to value our new Rescues' lives as much as we do and encourages you to read up on and learn about this horrific industry. (There is ample information out there, and, fair warning, some articles include graphic photos and videos of the process.) We also hope it deepens your appreciation for all the animals we save and will continue to save in the future.

Thank you for your generous donations that helped us rescue these beautiful creatures from this danger. We couldn't have done it without you. Together we are Tomten Farm and Sanctuary and together we make a difference for animals in need.

**Just one example of the many articles out there. -global-donkey-crisis-yes-really/

Say Hello to Our Newest Donkey Rescues
(Photos taken during their first days at Tomten)



Did You Know...

Mrs. Lily Jones

At Tomten Farm and Sanctuary, a large part of our mission is to provide peace, protection and possibility for animals in need. Sometimes, however, by the time our lives converge, it is too late for us to provide possibility. The best we can do is protect that animal from future pain and give her the gift of peace in her final hours. And so we created the Mrs. Lily Jones Fund. As resources and circumstances permit, Tomten Farm and Sanctuary will facilitate and fund humane euthanasia —a final gift—for an animal we witness exhibiting exceptional pain at auction and who, in our opinion, is at high risk of experiencing insufferable pain as it is transported to and awaiting slaughter.  Please read about another donkey, Mrs. Lily Jones here and make a donation of compassion if you can.

Time to redecorate the nursery!
We celebrated the birth of Braynard Boddington Jones (aka "Baby Braymore") in 2016 when one of our first donkey rescues, Beatrice Poppins Braymore, arrived (unbeknownst to us) pregnant! Watch our 2020 donkeys' progress and be the first to see their foals' birth announcements and more—all on
Facebook and Instagram.




Proud donkey mom,
Beatrice Poppins Braymore

Tomten Farm and Sanctuary
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