The Donkey Sanctuary is this week celebrating the 50th birthday of Tessa, its oldest donkey!
Tessa arrived at The Donkey Sanctuary in 1985. She has since spent 30 years living happily on its farms with various donkey friends. With the average UK donkey life expectancy at 27, Tessa has outlived many of her peers- but she is still going strong!
Born in 1965 amid The Beatles and Top of the Pops era Tessa has a zest for life, a healthy appetite and a love of being groomed. She lives amongst a group of 27 donkeys and is friendly with all of them, and she has a favourite volunteer whom she loves to follow around.
She is adored by her grooms and has fans all over the world. For her 50th she received a host of birthday cards and a special carrot and donkey feed cake from her grooms.
“We all adore Tessa,” said Sue Force, one of her grooms. “She’s such a gentle donkey and a pleasure to have around. She just loves being sociable and loves attention and we think that’s what keeps her young. We hope she has many more happy years with us.”
“It’s quite unusual for a donkey to reach 50,” says Annie Brown, The Donkey Sanctuary’s General Farms Manager. “The secret of long life is individual care and management. We have flat grazing land, special bedding and careful feeding for the elderly, more regular dental checks and observant, well trained staff who notice tiny behaviour changes which indicate something is wrong at an early stage.”
Tessa is one of 6,200 rescued or rehomed donkeys currently in the care of The Donkey Sanctuary in the UK and Europe. Her predecessor, Esmerelda, lived to the grand old age of 56 and passed away just days before her 57th birthday. Working donkeys across the world live significantly shorter lives.