Last week, we introduced fourteen donkeys removed from sordid conditions at an Irish farm. One of the smallest and youngest in the herd, Parsley, has made remarkable improvements since finding his forever home at The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland.

Parsley entered the world knowing nothing but squalor. Filthy, wet conditions, confined stabling and a lack of human interaction had left him underweight, fearful and timid.

As one of the most concerning members of the herd, Parsley was among the first group of donkeys brought into The Donkey Sanctuary Ireland's New Arrivals yard.

The team were disheartened to see the state Parsley arrived in. Dawn O'Connor, New Arrivals Supervisor, recalls her initial observations of the little foal:

"Parsley's coat was in terrible condition when he first arrived. His belly and legs were extremely matted with dung, and he was covered in skin sores and lice."

Small grey foal Parsley pictured with sores on his legs and matted fur following rescue.
Parsley at New Arrivals.
Full size

The team knew they needed to treat Parsley urgently. Given that Parsley was a wild foal - having never faced human contact before his rescue - he was sedated in order for his coat to be fully clipped.

This experience in itself was stressful for both Parsley and his mother Daffodil, who was fiercely protective of her foal. Nevertheless, the team treated the pair with all their kindness and patience, knowing the clip would ease Parsley's suffering greatly and enable them to treat his skin conditions.

Building trust

Knowing that Parsley would soon need to be weaned from his mother, his grooms made plans to familiarise him with human presence and gain his trust.

With Daffodil and Parsley separated but within close proximity, his weaning process began. Through the team's patience and expertise, Daffodil's nervous and protective nature started to become less of a factor in building trust with Parsley.

Thankfully, a breakthrough was made in Parsley's progress; finally, he made a friend that would help him connect to his human rescuers. This connection, though, was not initially with any of his handlers.

Introducing BeeBee

BeeBee, a hinny foal, had also not been given the best start in life. Abandoned outside the Open Farm at just a few days old, she was too small to be put in with a large group of foals. Dawn then had an idea that would transform both of their lives - to put timid Parsley in with the small, non-threatening BeeBee.

"Parsley was one of my picks as he was wild, and he would benefit from more socialising with staff going in and out to feed the foal." says Dawn. So nervous was Parsley, that he was even unsure about trusting the tiny foal.

"At first Parsley was scared of the foal and shied away - but staff were there to monitor them to make sure no harm came to either."

Soon, the pair's relationship blossomed. Parsley's trust in BeeBee also opened the door to him gaining trust in the humans that cared for them both, too.

Within a few weeks of becoming friends with BeeBee, Parsley became vastly more comfortable with his grooms - seeking out attention from them in the form of scratches, and happily letting them pick up his feet. He has also shown fantastic improvements in his basic handling, being good to lead and "excellent" to catch: an impressive feat for a neglected foal who had no previous exposure to humans.

"He is the sweetest," reflects Dawn. "He has done a complete turnaround, from an extremely wild foal to now one of the most affectionate foals we have."

Your support gives foals like Parsley a future

Give a donkey a second chance.