Popular adoption donkey Ashley is providing support to his field buddy Christian at our specialist hospital as the latter prepares for vital surgery.

Ashley’s fans may have noticed the absence of a familiar face on The Donkey Sanctuary’s webcams this week. Thankfully, Ashley is away fulfilling a crucial role in fellow donkey Christian’s forthcoming surgery – the role of companion and friend.

The donkeys were escorted from their home at Slade House Farm, Sidmouth, to the nearby facility on Tuesday morning. Although adopters will temporarily be unable to visit their four-legged friend, Ashley is ensuring that Christian can go through his surgery with as little stress as possible.

A ‘ballerina’ buddy – Christian's condition

Christian was born with contracted tendons in both his front legs, forcing him to walk on his ‘toes’ – a condition known as ‘Ballerina Syndrome’. Our team of expert vets tried to manage the condition medically, but ultimately in 2014 he needed surgery to cut the tendons in both of his front legs and enable him to walk freely.

“He recovered beautifully from both surgeries,” said Abi Sefton, Intern Veterinary Surgeon, “But over time the tendon of his right front leg has joined together and scarred, leading to a recurrence of the condition - a common complication of this sort of surgery.

“We have tried to manage him medically over the past two months, but unfortunately the contraction is too severe and will require a second surgery. Due to the amount of scar tissue in the area, a second surgery for this condition is always more complicated.

“If we are able to perform the surgery successfully, Christian will have a long road to recovery, requiring several weeks in hospital with Ashley keeping him company.”

The best in care and preparation

Donkeys form incredibly strong bonds, and separating a bonded pair can dangerously heighten their stress levels. Our state-of-the-art hospital has been designed to allow patients like Christian to have a companion right by their side – through preparation, operation and recuperation.

Many of our supporters may be familiar with Ashley's friendships with Mr Khan and fellow adoption donkey Zena in their younger years. More recently, however, he has enjoyed playing with Christian - a handsome chap who matches Ashley's energy and temperament.

Before heading to hospital, the donkey duo practiced walking on and off the transporter so that they were comfortable with the experience.

“I’m really pleased with how the boys are handling the situation so far,” says Farm Supervisor Rosie Baker. “We’ve worked with them to get used to the transporter, leading them on and giving them a lot of fuss and a ginger biscuit.

“We don’t know right now how long Ashley will be away from Shelter Four – it depends on Christian’s surgery and the recovery time – but they will be in the best hands with our expert vets and we will update supporters along the way.”

Ashley turned out at hospital
Hospital sign
Ashley and Christian

You can adopt caring Ashley for just £3 a month.