Donkey Academy harnesses online learning

The Donkey Sanctuary’s VLE bids to improve equid welfare worldwide via a uniquely wide range of donkey-related courses

News has reached us of an online learning resource worth braying about: the Donkey Academy, a virtual venture intended to improve the lot of donkeys worldwide.

Launched by the Dorset-based Donkey Sanctuary charity, the VLE offers beginner- to expert-level courses on everything from hoof care to dentistry, respiratory disease to behaviour. Besides owners, the academy says its educational offering is intended for universities, veterinary colleges, carers and professionals alike.

“All of our courses are built and developed by our experts in donkey care and welfare,” said Fiona Cooke, head of research at the Donkey Sanctuary.

“They are developed based on the most up-to-date scientific knowledge and the expertise of people who have been working with donkeys and mules in many different contexts for many years.

“We understand the different needs of our audiences, so we are making sure that everyone can access the information that is relevant to them and the donkeys that they care for, work with, or wish to know more about.”

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The Donkey Academy has already been making good on its intention to make a difference across the globe, as a tale from UNSAAC University in Cusco, Peru, makes clear.

In partnership with the Equitarian Initiative, the Donkey Sanctuary developed the first-ever online curriculum for universities focused on welfare and preventive medicine for working equids.

“Having the opportunity to provide training, knowledge and skills to these students, who live in a region heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, was an incredible experience,” said Joao Rodrigues, lead for welfare assessment at the Donkey Sanctuary.

“The students were training to be general veterinarians, but their curriculum contained almost no courses on equid medicine, despite the large number of working equids in the region.

“We hope that with this online course, these vets will now have the tools to help these animals and support the communities that rely on them.”

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