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Zen Donkey Expands

A farm in Missouri is helping people reset and heal with the power of a plant-based lifestyle and rescue donkeys. 

It all started back in 2017 when Kate Barker and her husband, Andy, decided to take a break from the corporate world and get to the root of their passion. Soon after, they went on a trip to southern France where they stumbled upon a herd of donkeys and caught the couple’s eye. 

“With my background in therapeutic writing and working with horses, I was immediately drawn to their [donkey's] therapeutic qualities, they just have this really incredible, magical, presence about them,” explained Barker. 

After returning to the United States, Barker decided to learn more about donkeys, and that’s when she learned more about the ongoing donkey skin trade crisis. 

A quick Google search will result in articles explaining the process thousands of donkeys go through across the world. To put into perspective, the majority are slaughtered for their skins which are often used in beauty products. The entire trade also opens the doors to infectious diseases, according to scholarly reports. 

“It's a really horrendous process that donkeys have to go through,  and it's something that nobody knows about, and so we wanted to spread awareness about it,” explained Barker. 

That’s how Barker founded Zen Donkey Farms (ZDF) and Zen Donkey Experience (ZDx) which are organizations that work on giving people easy access to a therapeutic journey with the help of donkeys. 

ZDF is a wellness business that focuses on producing cold-press juices that carry rich vitamins, are organic and simply good for mind, body and soul. ZDF also carries a variety of other drinks like plant-based ‘mylk’ and hemp protein superfoods with each purchase directly supporting ZDx. Each of their products can be ordered and delivered throughout the Kansas City metro area and available at select farmer’s markets. 

“I am not a doctor, but we do offer products that can really help people embrace a healthy lifestyle, develop these daily habits that eventually turn into really healthy rituals,” explains Barker.

ZDx officially launched in 2020. It’s a place where Kansas Citians can get to know the impact Barker is having on her rescued donkey tribe. It’s a place where people of all ages can come out and care for the tribe and learn more about their rescue. 

Both of Barker’s organizations offer a variety of different experiences and services too. From yoga with donkeys to dining with donkeys. The services all have a two-fold effect. They help people heal, become more fulfilled and have an equal impact on the rescued donkeys. 

Barker is hoping to expand both locations which will add additional space and offer more interactive experiences to Kansas Citians while elevating the quality of life of the resident donkeys. 

“We are at capacity, so we can’t rescue any more [donkeys],” said Barker. “It’s a beautiful property, and we are really grateful to be here.”

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