Lockie was born at our Ireland sanctuary shortly after the first lockdown began in 2020. Read on to find out how he's been developing.

Lockie's arrival helped spread joy to our supporters and staff alike as the world grappled with a new way of life caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The future looked a little brighter after Lockie was born to Honeybee at Hannigans Farm in Liscarroll on Easter Monday.

Speaking at the time of his arrival, The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland's Head of Farms Declan Sexton said: "Lockie is thriving and loves to bound around. He is still a little shy, but that is to be expected at this stage as he gets used to us being around."

Best of friends

A year on, Lockie continues to thrive. He has formed an unbreakable friendship with another young donkey named Dinky, and the two spend their days together playing and exploring their surroundings.

Declan says: "Lockie and Dinky have become very close. They love playing with each other and can be seen making their own fun. They have both become very independent."

Working restrictions caused by the pandemic meant that Lockie's journey to his first birthday was far from ordinary, but valuable one-to-one time with his grooms is now helping to prepare him for the future.

Declan says: "During lockdown, the farm teams continued to work in pods on alternate days, with fewer people on site at any one time. Crucial care of the donkeys continued in that time, but during the early months of a foal's life, they spend their time close to their mother's side, so they don't need lots of one-on-one time with grooms at that point.

"Lockie will now need more time spent with him on development work like getting used to being on a lead rope and being comfortable with it."

While they were being weaned, we moved Lockie and Dinky into their own stable neighbouring their mothers, where they could see each other and touch noses but not feed from them. Now that the young donkeys are weaned, their mothers have been moved away to another group on Hannigans Farm.

As Lockie and Dinky will no longer be taking milk, the farm team will be keeping a close eye on their weight. They already both receive extra feed, but they will need to be given a little extra if they lose a little weight.

Going from strength to strength

Lockie has transformed from the tiny foal he once was into a strong, able donkey, and he is almost as tall as Honeybee.

Declan says: "Lockie had a big growth spurt at the end of last summer. His growth has slowed down again, but I imagine he is due another spurt soon. Lockie is quite a leggy donkey, but he will fill out more as his growth continues.

"Dinky is now catching up with him, and there is no longer much of a size difference between them. Young donkeys can experience growth spurts at different times to each other as they mature."

We hope Lockie and Dinky will enter our Rehoming Scheme in a few years, where they will bring joy to their new Donkey Guardian family.

Although they are no longer very young, their care and development will be key over the next few years. Some other foals will shortly be joining them, and they will stay at Woods Shed 1 for the rest of the year, and in 2022 will join a larger group in our herd.

Declan says: "This group of donkeys are young, and Lockie and Dinky will develop here as they learn what it is like to be part of a bigger group.

"The process for ensuring donkeys are suitable for rehoming can be lengthy and always differs from donkey to donkey. Donkeys must settle and mature. As they grow from foals into young donkeys, they will still be playful and can be a little skittish, but time changes that, and they settle more as they mature."

To celebrate Lockie's first birthday, he will get a little cake made from high fibre nuts, topped with chopped carrots. Both Lockie and Dinky love the extra feed they receive, especially the occasional treat of chopped fruit and vegetables.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland's Liscarroll Farm is currently closed to members of the public. Donkey-facing staff continue to work and provide the highest level of care and welfare to the charity's resident donkeys and mules.

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