Ned and Jeremy, 9 years old and 8 years old respectively, are rescue donkeys from Ireland. There were found abandoned and tied up in a shelter in the dark with neither food nor water. The Elizabeth Svendson Donkey Sanctuary in Sidmouth, Devon became aware of their plight and brought them to the sanctuary in England along with other donkeys in a similar situation.
At the sanctuary, the staff took care of Ned and Jeremy and helped them to trust humans again until they were ready for a new foster home. The Trust always fosters donkeys in pairs as they have a propensity to form close bonds of friendship. They also bond well with other animals such as sheep and horses. A lone donkey tends to bray in the hope of a response from another donkey. A happy donkey is a quiet donkey!
Ned and Jeremy have four acres of grazing and a stable and a shelter. The stable and shelter are essential as, unlike a horse, donkeys do not have a natural build up of grease to make their coats waterproof; they need shelter from rain, wind and sun. Their feet are adapted to semi arid conditions, and they have to have a clean, dry surface on which to stand. They sleep standing up, so their feet must be kept clean and dry. Occasionally they lie down for a few minutes, but most of the time they are upright.
The donkeys need regular attention to their hooves and teeth, as well as annual injections. Daily activities such as grooming their coats, mucking out their stable, and ‘poo picking’ of their field keep their people busy for an hour or two every day. The sanctuary is very supportive of the foster homes of the donkeys. A Welfare Officer visits twice per year, and is always available to help with difficulties and to offer assurance. In the five years that Ned and Jeremy have been living in Lambourn, there have been no difficulties, no accidents, no illnesses. Long may it continue!
Ned and Jeremy eat grass all day long. They are always pleased to see us on our daily visits, and several times per week, we take them for a short walk outside the field. In winter, we give them hay once per day. They drink a lot of water from their buckets in the field. Once per day, we give them a little treat of carrots and a ginger biscuit. As they are vegetarians, they have to eat a lot. Ten kilogrammes of grass every day is normal.
The two donkeys are quite different characters. Ned is the calmer of the two, while Jeremy is always more suspicious and nervous. However, both are very affectionate and love attention, particularly from our grandchildren. They have quite exceptional calming and therapeutic qualities.
The Donkey Sanctuary in Devon is a lovely place to visit and of course they are always looking for more homes for donkeys, or for people to sponsor a donkey.
People quite often ask if Ned and Jeremy would like to take part in events such as nativity plays or fetes. However, we always say no. Although the donkeys are very docile, they are quite large animals and when confused by strange circumstances they can behave erratically, running around and sometimes kicking their legs up. For the safety of both the donkeys and people, it is best that they stay in their field. They always welcome visitors, especially if the visitor offers them a carrot!
More information about the Donkey Sanctuary
If you would like to help a donkey please visit www.thedonkeysanctuary.org.uk