A quick-thinking groom helped a donkey deliver her foal safely, after one of its front legs became stuck during birth, at international animal welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary.

The mare, called Abbie, went into labour on Tuesday evening (8 June), and when groom, Lisa Coles went to check on her, she quickly realised that one of the foal’s front legs was stuck. Lisa could see that Abbie was struggling and knew that she had to do something fast to help her.

Lisa gently held the foal and was able to free its leg, helping Abbie to deliver her baby safely. 

Neil Coles, a Farm Manager at The Donkey Sanctuary said: “Lisa did brilliantly and helped Abbie deliver the foal safely. She acted quickly when time was of the essence, and without her actions, Abbie could have got into real difficulty.”

After being checked over by one of The Donkey Sanctuary’s vets, both mother and daughter were given a clean bill of health. The pair were out in the sunshine the following day, where the fluffy, grey youngster, who is yet to be named, could begin to explore her new surroundings.

Abbie was in foal when she was relinquished into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary in September 2020. She was discovered running free with her previous foal, Timmy, alongside the busy A47 near Norwich.

They were separated from the fast-moving traffic by just a thin hedge, and could have easily found themselves in a very dangerous situation and posed a real risk to drivers, if they had escaped onto the busy dual carriageway.

After arriving at The Donkey Sanctuary, veterinary checks revealed that Abbie was expecting a foal.

When Abbie’s foal is old enough, she will be introduced to other donkeys of a similar age. It is hoped that one day she will be found a new home on the charity’s Rehoming Scheme with her own Donkey Guardian.

The Donkey Sanctuary has a no breeding policy. Foals born at the sanctuary are born to mares that have arrived already in foal.


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.