Staff at the Sidmouth-based Donkey Sanctuary are working round-the-clock to hand rear and bottle feed a foal whose mother tragically died during birth last week.
Ashley was born on Tuesday 20th October but his mother suffered a fatal complication and sadly passed away.
The Sanctuary’s veterinary team began a two-hourly bottle feeding regime and this week, Ashley will move on to feeds at four hourly intervals. Staff are working to a rota to help with the feeds which could continue for a further six to 10 weeks.
Hand rearing a foal requires a great deal of commitment in both time and resources, but the charity specialises in donkey care and welfare and considers itself a centre of excellence.
Elena Barrio is the vet looking after Ashley. She says: “Ashley is a delightful little character and everyday goes from strength to strength. He is responding better than I had expected to the bottle feeds so I’m really pleased.
Hand reared foals can develop poor behavioural characteristics so during the day we have been putting him in a paddock with another foal and its mother who act like a role model to him. We are also being careful to minimise cuddles because he could otherwise grow to prefer humans to donkeys, although it is quite tough to resist!”
Anyone taking a trip to the Sanctuary during half term will be able to meet two older foals Brian and Janet in Salston Boxes. However, Ashley remains in ‘intensive care’ within the New Arrivals unit, which is not accessible to visitors. He is joined by two other foals - Zena, born prematurely, and Mr Khun. Updates and video clips of these foals can be found at www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk
The Sanctuary has a no breeding policy and only has foals if a donkey is taken in already pregnant.
Further information about the care of orphaned foals features within the charity’s new Complete Book of The Donkey publication and free advice and support is readily available online or by a call to the national welfare and advice line 01395 578222.