A donkey suffering from a form of cancer has received life-saving surgery, thanks to international animal welfare charities, The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare.

The eight-year-old skewbald donkey called Skye, who was living on the grounds of a distillery in Fort William, Lochabar, in the Scottish Highlands, had a large growth on his chest that needed urgent veterinary attention.

An independent vet examined the large growth on Skye’s chest, and diagnosed it as a sarcoid, a kind of skin cancer.

The vet confirmed Skye would need specialist surgery and dedicated aftercare due to the severity of his sarcoid. It was suggested that the only option could be to put Skye to sleep.

A local groom and volunteers looked after Skye and a pony he lived with, after their owner could no longer care for them.

In a desperate effort to save Skye, Emma Norval, a local volunteer who helped look after him, contacted The Donkey Sanctuary to see if they could offer any support.

The Donkey Sanctuary and World Horse Welfare worked together to explore other treatment options for Skye.

Jenna Goldby, Donkey Welfare Adviser at The Donkey Sanctuary, said: “Due to the nature of Skye’s sarcoid, the only treatment option available was to remove it via laser treatment. It was not going to be possible to remove it on site, so World Horse Welfare transported him to the University of Glasgow, School of Veterinary Medicine for the operation.”

John Burns, Field Officer at World Horse Welfare, said: “Because the sarcoid was on Skye’s chest the operation had to take place with him standing. Under the expert care of Professor David Sutton, the tumour was removed using laser treatment.

“Everyone is really hopeful that Skye will continue to make a full recovery and go on to live in very good health.”

Emma Norval said: “If it had not been for such a quick response from The Donkey Sanctuary I don’t think the lovely, gentle Skye would be here today. He is such a lovely boy.”

Jenna added: “This is a great outcome for Skye and I hope he goes on to live a happy and enriched life. The Donkey Sanctuary has a team of Donkey Welfare Advisers around the country and we’re here to offer free support and advice to donkey owners.”

Following surgery, Skye was moved to a holding base funded by The Donkey Sanctuary, where his health is continuing to improve. He has settled in well and is receiving the care that he deserves from his dedicated grooms.


For interviews, images and information please contact The Donkey Sanctuary press office on 01395 573124 or 07970 927778 (including out of hours) or send an email.

Notes to Editors

The Donkey Sanctuary is the world's largest equine welfare charity. Our vision is a world where donkeys and mules live free from suffering and their contribution to humanity is fully valued. We run 10 sanctuaries around the UK and Europe, giving lifelong care to more than 7,000 donkeys and mules. Our hospital treats sick donkeys and trains vets both nationwide and worldwide. Our donkey-facilitated learning programme helps vulnerable children and adults develop life skills by connecting with donkeys on an emotional and physical level. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation, and those used in the production of meat and skin.

Please note that the name ‘The Donkey Sanctuary’ should not be abbreviated to ‘Donkey Sanctuary’, and the word ‘The’ should always appear with a capital ‘T’ as above.