A donkey going off of its food can be caused by the stress of an event such as being separated from their bonded partner.
Therefore, extra considerations have been taken in the design of the new donkey hospital.
Efficient layouts will reduce waiting times and improve the flow of donkey patients in and out of treatment rooms, with plenty of room for bonded friends to accompany their stay!
Donkeys can form lifelong friendships and generally do not like being kept alone.
The tendency for donkeys to bond strongly with their companions has implications for their management, and this must be taken into consideration. Donkeys can bond so strongly that separating them can cause them to become very distressed, and even ill.
One potential illness is hyperlipaemia, which is a condition that carries a high risk of death. The disease process begins when a donkey stops eating due to illness or stress.
They then go into a state of ‘negative energy balance’ which means more energy is used up than taken in. However, the essential organs still require a food supply, so the body tries to use energy that is stored as fat deposits.
The result is that free fatty acids are circulated to the liver to be converted to glucose for use by the body. This system is controlled by complex hormonal events, which should shut down the amount of fat released from fat stores as the liver produces the glucose for the body.
However; donkeys and small ponies are not able to efficiently turn off this fat release, and the blood soon carries excess fat in circulation.
Large amounts of fat cause the liver and kidneys to degenerate and fail, and eventually all the organs in the body fail. The result is irreversible organ damage and death.
The upmost care is taken by staff at The Donkey Sanctuary to ensure that any changes for a donkey are as minimised as possible in order to prevent additional stress. This has also been a major consideration in the design of the new donkey hospital due to the expert knowledge held by our capable teams.