One of our much-loved adoption donkeys has helped to settle in two nervous donkeys at our Leeds sanctuary.

David and Theo, rescued from a frosty field in a morning operation on New Year’s Eve 2019, saw Harbin the donkey as a role model as they acclimatised to daily life at the sanctuary.

The pair had exhibited nervous behaviour after arriving at Leeds but have since latched on to Harbin’s calm and steady demeanour as a source of reassurance. 

Cathryn Hampshire, Centre Manager at Leeds, says: “When David and Theo first arrived with us, they did not know how to interact with themselves, let alone with other donkeys.

“Initially, we kept them separate while our team helped them build up confidence and trust. We wanted to show them that humans can be kind.”

Breaking down the barriers

After arriving at Leeds, David and Theo undertook a training regime with our equine behaviourists to help to build up their confidence and help them feel more comfortable around humans.

Two-year-old David and four-year-old Theo were integrated into the herd at Leeds to aid their development and instantly looked to Harbin as their mentor.

The pair would often watch Harbin when experiencing new challenges at the sanctuary, such as being loaded on and off the donkey transporter.

When Harbin made his way onto the transporter in a calm and steady manner, David and Theo appeared to take comfort watching him.

Cathryn says: “Harbin is the most caring and loveable donkey. He cares for those around him, and he is a calming influence on anyone who meets him.

“I’m not surprised that David and Theo took to Harbin like they did, and he has taught them a lot.”

Steady progress 

Since their first meeting with Harbin, David and Theo have come on leaps and bounds at Leeds.

Theo recently took part in his first wellbeing session with a group of NHS workers.

Cathryn adds: “He really impressed us. When he first arrived at Leeds, Theo wasn’t really approachable, but he was very calm and collected and took everything in his stride this time around.

“It has been a wonderful transformation for Theo. Our team worked with him over several months, and he now displays the behaviours needed to continue doing these types of sessions for the foreseeable future.

“As for Harbin, he remains a reliable and loveable teddy bear that everyone is smitten with!”

Your support helps donkeys like Harbin, David and Theo