top of page

5 Star Licence Holder


Blackberry Donkeys


Welcome to the home page of Blackberry Donkeys.  Established in 2017 by Marie Bates, Blackberry Donkeys is based in Hartlepool in the north east of England and offers licensed donkey hire.  Blackberry Donkeys hold a current 5 star licence for the highest possible donkey care and welfare standards, for their team of seven wonderful, inquisitive and friendly donkeys. 

The team of six standard sized donkeys and one miniature Mediterranean donkey, have access to 14 acres of varied grazing and shrubs, (divided into smaller fields) that enables a variety of environment enrichment choices, which along with activities and toys, ensures that these donkeys have ample opportunity to express natural behaviour in a herd, which is important for their mental and physical well-being and happiness.

Blackberry Donkeys provide a professional, knowledgeable and friendly service throughout the north east.   

Hartlepool Borough Council Licence Number: HART/RE05

 What do we offer?

  • Donkey assisted activities in schools, (educational talks), care homes and dementia centres

  • Donkey care exams

  • Meet and greets

  • Special events

  • Charity and Community events

  • Festive and Easter work

  • Story telling

  • Museums

  • TV work

  • Photograph shoots



RAGWORT is around in various stages of growth at this time of year and it is highly poisonous to horses, donkeys and livestock. Whilst livestock can detect it is poisonous, when they are kept in fields were grass is in short supply, animals will be tempted.

Furthermore, when the plant has died off and dried out, livestock can no longer detect that it is poisonous and will readily eat it. Therefore, it is vital that this is not allowed to grow in livestock paddocks and where fields are being cut for hay. PLEASE WEAR GLOVES when pulling out RAGWORT. A Rag fork is also useful. The pictures show RAGWORT at different stages.

What are the clinical signs of ragwort poisoning in animals?

diahorrea, lethargic, depression, aggression, weight loss, abdominal pain, circling and head pressing, photosensitive skin

Whilst ragwort is the food of choice for the larvae of the cinnabar moth, when it appears in fields with livestock, it must be removed.



I'm in! I'm super excited to have been accepted onto a 10 month Equine Assisted Learning Facilitators Course, 18 days of which are hands on, and will require 6 trips to Ireland in 2024 ! This course, will allow me to offer Equine Assisted Learning sessions, to help people improve their social, behavioural and emotional contingencies, through working with donkeys. My aim at my own centre, (when completed), is to offer the best possible conditions in which my donkeys can thrive and to enable people who visit our centre for EAL sessions, to benefit from spending time with my beautiful donkeys, in a way in which it is beneficial to both humans and donkeys. 🫏🫏


We have received our decision from Hartlepool Borough Council's planning department, regarding the construction of our new centre, and it's a 'Yes'!  Oh, my goodness, I can't convey and put into words what an absolute relief this is and how happy I am.  The centre will not only provide a permanent loving home for my drove of 7 donkeys, plus more local donkeys in need, but will also offer opportunities for people in the local community and beyond, to come and visit my donkeys in their own home and participate in donkey care examinations, petting sessions and Equine Assisted Learning.  Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us along the way, by offering advice, support, references and kind words; it has made all the difference. Thank you so much! Marie 🫏🫏

Above: The moment Teddy our miniature Miniature Mediterranean donkey  passed me a pretend copy of our planning approval, to help us share the good news on social media.





(April 2023) 

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart, that we said goodbye to our dear donkey Matthew, following a short illness, despite our best efforts to save him.  Matthew was such a special guy and really loved being around his humans.  He meant such a lot to so many people and his passing away has left us heart broken, as our gorgeous drove of 7 donkeys, became a drove of 6.

A BIG 'Hello!' To Rescue Donkey Tom (May 2023)

Until the new centre is built, I wasn't planning on offering a permanent loving home to any more donkeys, but following a few phone calls, we agreed to collect Tom.  Tom is a recently castrated, two year donkey, who hadn't had the best start in life and his rescuers wanted him to have a permanent loving home with other donkey could we say no!  Welcome to your new home Tom.  We hope that you have many happy years here with us .


I had a lovely day at the Donkey Breed Society Northern Region willow donkey weaving event. It was lots of fun and it was great to put a face to the names of people I have only spoken to via email or over the phone. Thank you so much ladies for making me feel so welcome. I'm really not sure what my donkeys think of the newest member of the team . To be fair it looks a bit like a giraffe cross hare cross deer, rather than a donkey ... their faces say it all really!



5 Star Licence



 'It was wonderful to have the donkeys attend our school.  The children were able to gently stroke them and ask lots of questions about their care.  The staff were highly professional and knowledgeable.'        

Mrs T


bottom of page