The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute

Once you meet these gentle giants, you will understand the heart of our mission.

The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute, a newly incorporated organization and soon to be non-profit, was established to support the Poitou conservation efforts and is located on The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute in the Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve on Whidbey Island, WA.

The institute is organized primarily for charitable, educational, and scientific purposes. Some of the specific purposes are to:

  • Promote the development of healthy Poitou donkeys in the United States so that the breed will move off of the critically endangered list (which means less than 500 animals world-wide);
  • Increase public and institutional support for the critically endangered Poitou donkey in Washington State and the Northwest;
  • Establish a Poitou donkey center in the Northwest for the exchange of information and breed enhancement, and assist in maintaining an American Poitou Breed Book Registry;
  • Educate the public about endangered farm animals and the benefits of species diversity in sustainable agriculture;
  • Build partnerships among Northwest and U.S. breeders, creating a strengthened American breeding network for Poitou donkeys in the United States;
  • Enhance the viability of donkey usage in Island County and Washington state by initiating a breeding program for 100% Poitou donkeys, training programs for agricultural use of the donkey, as well as for pleasure riding, entertainment, and as guard animals for other herd animals;
  • Utilize Poitou donkeys for the exchange of low-capital technologies that increase the sustainability and productivity of people in rural communities;
  • Establish a Washington chapter of the Donkey and Mule Association;
  • Establish a Donkey Equine Reproduction Center in Western Washington that will conduct reproductive research, have current scientific breeding equipment, and have veterinary specialists for the donkey and Poitou donkey specifically.

While enormous media attention is given to vanishing wildlife, few know that many farm breeds are endangered today, some critically endangered. This means that fewer than 500 of these animals exist worldwide. The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute seeks to produce genetically healthy Poitou donkeys to work and to exhibit in order to promote them and educate the public.

Original home to Nova and Olympia, The Hamilton Rare Breed Foundation, pioneered the use of frozen semen in the breeding of the Poitou Donkey and is the first to have produced foals with this technology. They have worked closely with the French Registry and French breeders who have done everything possible to help promote this critically endangered breed. The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute works closely with the Hamilton Rare Breeds Foundation in Vermont.

The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute begins its conservation efforts with three jennets: Nova, Olympia and Rhapsodie. These Baudet du Poitou jennets are listed in the Livre A registration books for animals that are purebred, which means that both parents are also inscribed in the Livre A Studbook and recorded with SIRE.

The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute donkeys will be trained to lead and to pull a cart so they will be able to demonstrate how these animals can be utilized as draft animals. Your browser may not support display of this image.The Poitou donkey is more endangered than the white rhino.

It is in our collective best interest as a culture to preserve living species whenever possible, especially those we have had long and beneficial relationships with throughout our human history. Future pandemics could wipe out whole species of agricultural breeds, creating vast food shortages world-wide. Many endangered or critically endangered farm animals are on the verge of extinction. Monocrop thinking - whether it be for plants, fish or animals - is not good for a living and healthy planet.

The Northwest Poitou Donkey Institute is an effort to save one very special breed for a next generation. Once you meet these gentle giants, you will understand the heart of our mission.

How can you help the institute?