Bocelli, who has been blind since birth, lives with his mother, Eren, at our sanctuary in Ireland. Learn more about their story here.
Eren came to our sanctuary after being abandoned while in foal in 2015. Later that year, when her foal was born, it was evident that he had sight difficulties and tests proved that he was blind. In his first few weeks, our wonderful staff made sure to carefully position the foal so that he could feed from Eren until he could begin to find his own way.
Our team decided to call him Bocelli, after the Italian singer Andrea Bocelli. Andrea is renowned for his talent, strength and courage; therefore, it seemed an appropriate name for this strong-willed donkey.
Five years on, Eren and Bocelli continue to have a unique bond and spend a lot of time together. Eren is a calm and protective mother, and Bocelli is visibly relaxed and content in her presence.
Reflecting on the nature of the pair's relationship, Callum Watson, Farm Supervisor, says: "Eren and Bocelli share a very close bond, and she is a very protective mother. Both donkeys are sweet-natured and gentle. We usually find them close to each other and frequently see them interacting; their close bond is plain to see."
Because he is blind, Bocelli recognises our staff based on their scent and the sounds of their voices.
Callum says: "Bocelli walks with his head down a little lower than the other donkeys. This is because he is using his sense of smell to guide him. Bocelli knows all of our grooms by smell and sound. Our staff make him aware that they are approaching him so that he does not get startled and remains safe and comfortable. As they approach him, our grooms say 'Bocelli' or 'Hi Bo', and they keep a hand out in front so that he can use his sense of smell to know who is there."
The pair have plenty of friends in the donkey group in which they live. Pearl is a close friend to both donkeys, and if Eren is not near Bocelli, she steps in and keeps a watchful eye over him. Bocelli also enjoys spending time with his good friend Zeb, and the pair enjoy playing together.
While we operate a no breeding policy, all foals born into our care are guaranteed a home for life, either at one of our sanctuaries or in one of our Guardian homes across the UK and Ireland.
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With your generous support we can continue to care for donkeys like Bocelli