Virtual donkey meet-and-greets help support Uxbridge, Ont., animal sanctuary

Virtual donkey meet-and-greets help support Uxbridge animal sanctuary
An animal sanctuary in Uxbridge has come up with a creative way to raise funds during the pandemic. And as Brittany Rosen reports, it involves a donkey and a camera.

An animal sanctuary in Uxbridge, Ont., has come up with a creative way to raise funds during the coronavirus pandemic.

With COVID-19 prohibiting people from visiting animal sanctuaries like the Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, staff took it upon themselves to come up with a solution to bring the animals to them.

Starting at $75, customers may partake in a 10-minute video call with none other than Buckwheat the donkey.

“We try to customize the experience for every single caller, so sometimes it’s a surprise,” said Edith Barabash, co-founder and executive director at the sanctuary.

“We didn’t think it would blow up like this, but people absolutely love the idea of interacting with these animals live.”

READ MORE: Durham animal sanctuary needs volunteers in order to expand operation

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The friendly and personable 12-year-old donkey does multiple video calls a day with school classes, companies and individuals who live as far away as California.

Her time is quite in demand, with the donkey’s schedule fully booked throughout the month of June. The sanctuary says Buckwheat has been a crucial part of their fundraising efforts.

“It’s been an amazing solution and we really have been able to raise the funds to survive through this pandemic,” Barabash said.

Port Perry Sanctuary gives animals new lease on life
Port Perry Sanctuary gives animals new lease on life

Farmhouse Garden Animal Home says as a result of the outbreak, they’ve had to dip into their emergency reserve.

Profit made from virtual farm tours and conference calls with Buckwheat are solely used to buy supplies to care for the animals.

As for whether this emerging online superstar will give up more face time following the pandemic, staff say due to her current success, it’s part of the plan, hoping one day Buckwheat will be a household name.

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