Gabriel was just one of over 700 donkeys destined for the skin trade and abandoned in a holding pen in Brazil. Following our recent emergency trip to the pen, we tell their story.

In a vastly overcrowded holding pen in Brazil, emergency teams from The Donkey Sanctuary in Mexico and the UK were appalled by the scale of the suffering they witnessed. By the time they had arrived on site, numbers had already dropped to 400 and the carcasses of donkeys were polluting their only water supply.

On their visit, our teams came across Gabriel – a donkey fighting his own battle at the hand of the skin trade.

The Donkey Sanctuary team gives hope for donkeys like Gabriel

In spite of the overwhelming losses that our emergency team were encountering every day, moments of hope inspired them to keep fighting for the group of abandoned donkeys.

Gabriel was found collapsed on the ground, unable to get himself to his feet. He was a young donkey, at approximately three to four-years-old, but was incredibly thin.

The team lifted him up and he was able to walk away. They watched Gabriel for a while as, weak and unsteady, he tried to feed on the piles of hay they had spread out around the enclosure. As he approached, however, he was pushed out by the other, stronger donkeys.

Vets Omar and Frede decided that Gabriel needed a helping hand if he was going to survive. They took him into the shade, and began treatment.

Very thin donkey Gabriel in Brazil
Gabriel trying to forage in Brazil holding pen
Gabriel receives nasogastric intubation in Brazil

“We performed a nasogastric intubation because it’s a very good way to give fluids fast,” says Omar.

“We’ve used this procedure in many donkeys we are treating here, as it’s the best option for them – we can give at least 2 litres with sugar and salt every 45 minutes, and it works really well for these types of animals.”

Later in the afternoon, Gabriel was found on the ground again, but this time he had become stuck in the mud by the pond while trying to get water. Once he was freed, our team performed a further nasogastric intubation in their second attempt to save his life.

Thankfully, their interventions worked; Gabriel’s condition picked up and he looked even stronger than before. They watched as he walked into a group of donkeys and was able to eat his share of hay without being pushed out.

On checking Gabriel the following morning, everyone was delighted that he was in with the herd and looking well, with his ears pricked as he waited for the next delivery of hay.

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