Amidst sad circumstances, Priscilla was able to find a friend for life in Frankie thanks to The Donkey Sanctuary’s rehoming scheme.

The end of a chapter

Welfare adviser Jenna Goldby received a call from the owner of two donkeys, Priscilla and Gladys, asking for help: Gladys was elderly and suffering from terminal blood cancer. Her owner realised that the kindest thing to do for Gladys would be to have her gently put to sleep, but this would leave 11-year-old Priscilla on her own, without her companion of nine years.

The news was concerning to Jenna: bonded donkeys can become distressed when they are separated, even for a short time. When one dies and the other is left alone, there is a high chance that the surviving donkey’s welfare will be compromised. They may show persistent wandering, pacing and braying, as they look for the missing donkey. The effect of the stress can even bring on a hyperlipaemic crisis – a life threatening condition.

Jenna went to visit Priscilla and Gladys in their home to better understand the challenge facing her.

She says: “Priscilla had enjoyed roaming the grassy field with her elderly companion and as a result was a little bit overweight after a summer of good grazing. This would make rehoming her particularly difficult, as her new owners would need to be experienced and strictly manage her diet and exercise to help her lose weight.

“Her weight issues also meant that she was at a higher risk of hyperlipeamia – a stress related condition – so the stress of losing her friend, followed by the stress of a move was a big concern.”

The next step

Although the pair’s owner was experienced, she felt she was not at a stage in life to take on another youngster to keep Priscilla company. She wanted to relinquish Priscilla to The Donkey Sanctuary to secure her future and to ensure that a companion could be found for her after Gladys was put to sleep.

Thankfully, a fresh start for Priscilla was soon within sight when the Wall family signed up to our donkey guardian scheme.

Although Jo and Karl were fairly new to looking after equines, their 13-year-old daughter Anwen is ‘horse mad’ and regularly competes at her local stables.

Jenna said: “Although Priscilla’s issues meant she would not ideally be placed with novice owners, it soon became apparent to me that Jo and Karl were much more capable than they gave themselves credit for - they must have picked up more knowledge than they realised while standing in windy fields supporting Anwen with her equestrian passion.

“Once Jo saw a photo of pretty little Priscilla, she was totally sold and so excited about her arrival. I soon had an email update to say that Anwen was equally as excited about Priscilla, and was already devising a gentle exercise programme for her, which included walks out round the countryside and some donkey agility in the paddock.”

The hunt for a perfect companion

Our welfare team needed to find a new friend for Priscilla and soon identified a rather handsome donkey called Frankie, who was living in one of our herds in Exeter.

Frankie was relinquished to The Donkey Sanctuary in February 2016, as his owner was struggling to manage him due to his behaviour. On arrival, Frankie completed a settling-in period, during which time he was given a thorough medical, an update on all routine treatments and plenty of love and attention. Over time, and with expert training from our experienced staff, Frankie’s behaviour dramatically improved.

In spite of his personal growth with us at The Donkey Sanctuary, Frankie had yet to form a close bond with any of the donkeys in his herd – making him the perfect candidate for getting a fresh start with Priscilla and the Wall family.

The story continues

On the day of the big move, Frankie strode off the lorry, took a look at his surroundings and quickly started to investigate and suss out where he could find food. While his groom Hannah stayed with Karl and Jo to make sure Frankie would be ok, Jenna and driver Tony set back off in the lorry to collect Priscilla.

Jenna said: “It was a bitter-sweet journey as we had just left some very excited new Donkey Guardians, but had to then load up Priscilla while her owner waved a tearful goodbye to the donkey she had so wonderfully cared for and loved for 9 years.”

Priscilla unloading
Frankie and Priscilla meet over fence
Frankie and Priscilla grazing

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