Shropshire Star

Donkey sanctuary closure date confirmed with animals set to be sold to new homes

A beloved donkey and animal sanctuary is to close next weekend with the loss of seven jobs and all the animals sold to new homes.

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Tony Scott of Scotty's Donkeys and Animal Park, Norton, which will close next month

Scotty’s Donkeys & Animal Park has been based at Apley Estate near Shifnal for 10 years but will be closing its doors for the last time on September 3 when the lease comes to an end.

The animal sanctuary was set up by Tony "Scotty" Scott and his wife Gemma Mytton-Scott at the Apley Estate on the A442 Bridgnorth Road a decade ago.

The visitor attraction has more than 100 animals and offers activities such as donkey rides, a bouncy castle and a picnic area, but is now to close with the land they lease being returned to the owners and all the donkeys and other animals sold off.

The animal park said the decision to shut after a decade of providing care for the animals "has not been made without a lot of thought and heartache".

In a statement, Scotty's Donkeys said: "It is with great sadness that we have to inform everyone that we are closing our doors on September 3, 2023. This decision has not been made without a lot of thought and heartache.

"This really is a last resort that we didn’t want to happen. These animals have been a huge part of our lives and have brought us so much comfort and enjoyment, even through the toughest of winters and the lonely days through Covid.

"Scotty’s Donkeys has been running for almost 11 years and has always had family at the front. It started off with Tony and his daughter, Clare, after they had both been through some dark times and with Tony recovering from a heart attack. They started with a couple of donkeys doing rides……… Over the years, Tony has grown his business and expanded his animals.

"Scotty’s Donkeys & Animal Park has had lots of different people through their doors and they all tell a different story of what we have done for them, with some people having their first contact with animals, while some their last. Our animals have provided so much happiness to people from all walks of life, in particular we find a lot of children with learning disabilities coming and sitting for hours stroking the animals as it provides sensory comfort and calming.

"We have seen people with dementia who don’t know their own names, but once they are with the animals they recite stories from their child hoods, and their children’s childhood - this is some what bitter sweet. Even just last weekend, whilst visiting a nursing home, we got to experience the joy and wonder our animals are able to provide to people of all ages.

"With permission, we even had one of our longest standing donkeys, Teddy, walk through the home to visit those who were unable to join us outside, believing no person should have to miss out on a chance to meet our wonderful donkeys. Some people think there is no point visiting as its just animals, but as they leave they spend a lot of time talking to us about how they can’t believe how friendly they are, that you can stroke them and how each animal’s character is so different.

"The enjoyment of seeing people interact and enjoy our animals is incredible, without all of you none of this would have been possible. Your tremendous support and fundraising through Covid saw us come out of the other side when we thought the worst . Scotty’s Donkeys would like to thank each and everyone personally for their support over the years.

"We would like you all to come and say your goodbyes to staff and animals over the next 10 days. We have put on some experiences and one last family fun weekend, and please remember when visiting that the information we have provided is everything we ourselves know.

"We still have to carry on with our jobs until the very last day, which is getting harder by the minute. We know everyone means well by asking and saying how sad it is for the animals, but this is taking its toll on staff - so please let us do our jobs as we have with the knowledge that we are aware of how much you support us. Thank you all so much, we hope to be able to post photos on Facebook of any new homes our animals go to."

The sanctuary has listed its final events before closing.

Meet the miniature donkeys will be held on Tuesday, August 29, before a meet the small animals event two days later. On Friday, September 1, there will be a meet the kids and donkeys events.

On the final weekend, September 2-3, Scotty's will be holding a family fun weekend and barbecue.