A donkey lays its head on the back of another donkey

Trinity's Donkey Sanctuary

The backs of four donkeys, showing the shape of a cross in their coats

While you’re visiting the retreat center, take time to visit our little donkey sanctuary on the edge of the Trinity Forest. While you're petting or helping to feed the donkeys, you might notice they have the shape of the cross on their backs (all donkeys are born with this marking).

Why does Trinity Retreat Center have donkeys? Our six donkeys were saved from kill pens, and their rescue embodies our mission to be a refuge for those who need peace, comfort, and healing on life’s journey. Not only did Jesus choose the lowly donkey to ride into Jerusalem on, demonstrating humility, we believe donkeys embody Trinity’s core values of faith, integrity, inclusiveness, compassion, social justice, and stewardship.


Scripture tells us these friendly beasts of burden hold an important place in God’s divine plan. Touching and grooming donkeys allows people to relax and feel a sense of nurturing and connection with God’s creation. They also remind us that our relationship with animals echoes the depths of our humanity.


Donkeys have big personalities. Life with our donkeys invites us to look closely at not just what we desire for them, but what they truly need from us. These animals have their own ways of relating to humans, to other animals, and to God; and their honesty in relationship teaches us integrity in caring for them and for one another.


Donkeys represent the outcasts—“the least of these”—whom Christ calls everyone to welcome and protect. Donkeys are often misunderstood and underappreciated. When you spend time with them at the retreat center, we think you'll find they are humble, gentle, calm, and intelligent. A donkey might even put its head on your shoulder—the equivalent of a hug.


Trinity Retreat Center rescued our donkeys from kill pens, where they were being sold for their hides. The plight of the donkey is like that of the elephant and rhino, which are slaughtered around the world to serve the vanity of humans. In some parts of the world, donkeys are threatened because their skin is coveted for its use in cosmetics, sweets, and a popular anti-aging medicine.

Social Justice

The rescue of donkeys embodies the retreat center’s mission to be a refuge for those who need peace, comfort, and healing on life’s journey.


Donkeys are natural guardians. They protect our chickens and goats from predators, helping us live in balance with the abundant wildlife whose land we share and whose flourishing we are called to protect.

Joe Rose, one of the Executive Directors of the Retreat Center, plays soothing music for the donkeys.

But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.

Job 12:7–10

Subscribe for Retreat Center Updates

Follow the Retreat Center