A sanctuary worker was given the “sweetest surprise” when he discovered a recently rescued donkey had given birth to a healthy foal. Both jenny and foal are doing well and the new arrival is settling into life at the Donkey Sanctuary in Cork, Ireland.

Her mother was rescued by the charity last summer along with three other donkeys, as they were among a group who were severely underweight, and their owner was struggling with their care. The mare first came to the Donkey Sanctuary’s attention when a vet from the Department of Agriculture (DAFM) discovered eight very thin donkeys, six of whom had “bones protruding through their coats”.

The donkeys at the sanctuary

David Walsh, Donkey Welfare Adviser, spoke with the owner and found the group had grown in numbers due to unplanned breeding. The charity decided to reduce the group size and to prevent further breeding by relinquishing the two jennies and two foals into its care.

The welfare team continues to monitor the four donkeys that remained with the owner, and provided advice about donkey care and nutrition.

Additional assessments revealed that both jennies — later named Emily and Alina — were in foal once again when they arrived. The foals they came to the sanctuary with — later named Alex and Beth — were weaned at around six months and joined a young group of donkeys where they continue to thrive.

“Our farms and veterinary teams have closely monitored the mares over the past year, and on a routine walk around the farm early in April, John Sheehan, Farm Worker and Groom, got the sweetest surprise of all,” said a Donkey Sanctuary spokesman. “One of the mares, Emily, had given birth to a beautiful dark brown foal.”

Declan Sexton, Head of Farms, said the foal had only just got to her feet and was still finding her balance.

“We gave the mare and her foal time to bond and watched to make sure she started suckling,” he said. “Within about half an hour, we were able to see the foal going up to her mother and getting milk. When they had settled, the veterinary team came out to examine the pair to make sure they were all doing well.”

In recent weeks, the foal has grown stronger, and she can often be seen running around the barn while Emily stands nearby.

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