THE Blue Planet Aquarium at Cheshire Oaks will be playing host to some special visitors on Friday when it welcomes a group of rescued donkeys.

The animals, from The Donkey Sanctuary Assisted Therapy Centre in Abbey Hey, Manchester, will be visiting as part of a charity fundraiser which will also see the aquarium’s boss dive with sharks.

The centre provides donkey-assisted therapy for children with additional needs and for the elderly.

After welcoming the donkeys, which are due to arrive at Blue Planet at 11am, park director Andy Hygate will be donning a wetsuit and preparing to take the plunge in the giant Caribbean Reef display to raise funds for the centre.

Andy said: “I read about the amazing work the centre does with both youngsters and older people and how the donkeys have a really positive effect on their lives.

“It’s been a long time since I have dived with sharks and so I’m looking forward to getting back in the water and, hopefully, raising lots of funds.”

The Donkey Sanctuary charity is the largest donkey and mule sanctuary in the world.

Children who attend the centres have a range of special needs and disabilities, including communication and interaction difficulties such as autism, physical or sensory impairment, learning difficulties and behavioural, emotional and social development needs.