Sam the foal - orphaned at Christmas

Sam the donkey foal was orphaned shortly after he was born. He spent his very first Christmas without a mum and needing 24-hour care.

Donate today to help us be there for donkeys like Sam.


A home for Christmas - sanctuary for life

Just days before Christmas, young Sam the foal was facing the biggest struggle of his short life. At ten days old poor Sam was orphaned when his mother tragically died after suffering complications.

Little Sam was left all alone in the world and without a mum to love and care for him. He needed urgent help to get him through his first few weeks of life and was given a home by The Donkey Sanctuary.

While most people were enjoying the Christmas festivities, Sam was receiving critical round-the-clock care. Worried grooms gave him regular bottle feeds day and night. Expert care had saved Sam’s life, but we were able to give him something more.

Sam's story so far - what will his next step be?

Sam being bottle-fed by handler

Step One

Bottle feeding and 24-hour care

Orphaned foals need a huge amount of care, and can experience many complications if not properly looked after. In his first few weeks at The Donkey Sanctuary, Sam received essential round-the-clock care. Specially-formulated milk was fed to him every two hours, day and night - including a 3am feed on Christmas and Boxing Day!

Sam the foal alongside Soozee the supermum

Step Two

Finding a mum

Even with the most loving grooms, learning how to be a donkey is not an easy task when you've got no mum to show you the way. Sam desperately needed someone special. Enter Soozee - a loving mare with experience of raising foals of her own. The mare and foal pair were carefully introduced and Soozee the Supermum took Sam under her protective wing right away.

Sam gets some attention from one of his grooms

Step Three

Donkey training

Training donkeys from a young age is vitally important if they are to grow up confident and well-behaved animals. Our dedicated grooms worked with Sam every day, spending time catching him, using a head collar and teaching him to lift his hooves nicely for a farrier. All of this hard work will stand Sam in good stead should he one day join our Rehoming Scheme.

Sam's neck is inspected

Step Four

Veterinary intervention

Our expert vets have kept a close eye on Sam during the last vital 12 months. With the right vaccinations and treatments, he has been growing to a happy and healthy weight. But when grooms noticed a worrying lump on Sam's neck, he was whisked to our donkey hospital. Thankfully, the abscess was treatable and the minor surgery left Sam with nothing more than a tiny scar.

Sam looks over his fence

Step Five

What does the future hold?

Donkeys in need just like Sam come into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary every week. Will you support our Christmas appeal and donate today to offer the chance of a brighter future for hundreds of desperate donkeys like Sam here in the UK and right around the world. With your support, Sam can be sure of a happy life, free from suffering.

Make a donation today


£5 can help pay for warm straw beds for donkeys in need this Christmas.

Ashley, orphaned foal, being bottle fed

£10 can help pay for nutritious feed to keep rescued donkeys in good health.


£16 can help pay for essential vaccinations and medications to keep donkeys happy and healthy throughout their lives.


£50 can help pay for the lifelong care of rescued donkeys, giving them safety and security for the rest of their lives.