This February saw 16 donkeys and 5 mules rescued by The Donkey Sanctuary to the charity’s main Italian rescue centre at Sala Biellese, near Turin. The donkeys were enduring appalling conditions, from an Italian equine trader in Colleferro, Italy. It’s great to now see such donkeys as this new born foal, and mother Carmela thriving at the Italian rescue centre.
Our work in Italy began in April 2004 when we rescued 21 donkeys from terrible conditions at a bankrupt zoo in Naples, the result of an urgent appeal from Italian animal welfare association called Nata Libera.
The donkey population in Italy is estimated in the region of 24,000 and they are used mainly for meat, which is sold in markets in salami form and served up in restaurant stews. They are also used for transportation in rural farming areas, animal assisted therapy and holiday trekking.
We have established a subsidiary organisation called Il Rifugio degli Asinelli as a charity in Italy which will run our new farm in Turin.
The future for our core work in Italy is exciting. We can now provide permanent refuge to donkeys and also address welfare issues in the country by providing education and training to donkey owners and professionals.
Friday was my last day at Il Rifugio degli Asinelli (IRDA) and I only had the morning with the mules before departing for Turin to fly home. I used the time I had in the morning working on what the mules had all learnt during the week.
Thursday was a Bank Holiday in Italy known as Festa della Liberazione. It is to celebrate the liberation of Italy from Nazi Germany in 1945. It's was also my last full day in Italy and, as a little present to finish my week, the sun was already out in full force as I drove to work. It looks set to be a scorcher.
I woke up this morning to what looked to have been a damp and dreary night, but to my delight the sun broke through and it turned into a gorgeous sunny day. With the sun on their back all the mules waited in their usual morning spot, right next to the stable, in anticipation of breakfast!
After learning the daily routine of the mules yesterday, I decided this morning to work with Biclo and Margherita before their breakfast arrived in the hope of having their full concentration. They did not disappoint!