I know, I know... Phil and I can't seem to stay away from the little donks in Shelter 2. But I do have a good reason for telling you about them today! Last week Ashley, Mr Khan and Zena were fully weaned and their respective mums and foster mum - Oonagh, Flora and Breda went off to join a group of big, grown-up donkeys where they are able to talk about things other than milk, nappies and toys. Those beautiful and loving mums have done a fantastic job of raising their foals, and Breda was a saintly foster-mum to rascally Ashley.
The day after the mums left, I found myself walking towards Shelter 2 with a group of visitors. (I also act as a Sanctuary walks guide on some days when I'm not being a Quality Time Volunteer) I could see Mr Khan standing by the shelter, while Ashley and Zena were lying down, heads resting on tiny knees. I called them over to meet the visitors - no response from either Ashley or Zena, which was unusual to say the least. Mr Khan came over and poked his head through the fence to say hello to the visitors. I decided to go and see the other two and get them to come to the fence. But, no joy! Ashley did manage to raise his nose and give me a quick nudge, but that was it. They were either missing their mum and foster mum or they were taking full advantage of their absence and were having a lie-in! Hard to tell!
As I walked back to the visitors to explain what had happened, Mr Khan walked over to Zena. The visitors and I were most disconcerted when he started yanking at Zena's ear with his teeth. He didn't stop until she stood up! Then to our amazement, Mr Khan went to Ashley and did the exact same thing until Ashley stood up! Mr Khan then led them over to us at the fence! I don't think any of us could quite believe what we had just witnessed. "What a bright and clever little donkey, getting the other two to do what you wanted them to do!" exclaimed one of the astonished visitors! Clever Mr Khan indeed!
The following day the three young donks seemed much more their usual lively little selves. Just as well, because three little donkeys were about to become six little donkeys! On the say-so of one of the grooms, I was given the privilege of introducing Skippy, Mars and Ravelin, the three yearlings in the neighbouring paddock, to Ashley, Zena and Mr Khan! Gates were opened and in came the donkeys! After some intial hesitation, it was Zena who strode over first to say hello to their new friends, followed by Mr Khan - who seemed to take quite a shine to Skippy! Ashley's response was to trot up and down waving his favourite welly boot about in front of them for a while, before he too finally wandered over to introduce himself properly!
Today when Phil and I went to see them, we found all six little donkeys lying in the sun together, looking very happy and settled in each other's company! It seemed a shame to disturb them, so we left the little donks dozing quietly together, whilst we went off to Garmston Barn to find, cuddle and groom - Oonagh, Flora and Breda!