Demeku didn’t have the brightest of starts to life. She was born in Ethiopia earlier this year at a time when parts of the country were reeling from a severe drought. Barely a month after her birth, her mother fell critically ill. With no fresh grass due to the drought, her mother had resorted to eating thorny plants that blocked her oesophagus and made it difficult to swallow food.
Their owner rushed the ailing donkey to The Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia’s Alage project office for veterinary help. She was admitted to the Alage ATVET College’s Donkey Recovery Unit for urgent treatment. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, our vets were unable to save her.
At just a month old, the little foal had become an orphan. Her mother’s passing was a huge loss to their owner too, who depended on the mare to help transport essential drinking water for his family. He now had to make sure that her foal got the best chance at survival. After consulting with our vets, it was decided that it would be in the orphaned foal’s best interests to be cared for by the Donkey Sanctuary Ethiopia team until she was older. Dr Biru Ensene, Animal Health and Welfare Officer at the Alage project, decided to name her Demeku, which means ‘bright’ in Amharic.
The staff had to bottle-feed Demeku for the first few weeks, until she was old enough to start grazing on her own. She has a clean shelter and receives regular health check-ups from an animal attendant. Our team also take turns to groom her. The love and care have done wonders for Demeku, who at five months old is a playful donkey with a knack for extracting cuddles and treats from the doting humans around her!
Demeku will stay at ATVET College for two years, when she will be old enough for her owner to look after her. (Till then, the owner's neighbours are sharing their donkeys with him to help him transport water and other household goods.) To prepare Demeku’s owner for her return and to ensure she will have a good life, the Donkey Sanctuary team will give him training on proper handling, harnessing and good welfare practices. Our team will also monitor Demeku’s welfare throughout her life so that her future, like her name, stays bright and happy.