A veteran donkey who was left “forlorn and lonely” after losing his long-standing equine companion has formed a new special partnership.

24-year-old Max’s field mate, Rosie, succumbed to colic in November, and it was clear he had been missing his donkey friend.

But thanks to the efforts of The Donkey Sanctuary, Max has been introduced to Marian, a 20-year-old mare, and the pair have been inseparable ever since.

Marian was based with the charity in Devon, and had initially been thought of as unsuitable for rehoming due to a dental condition, but, when Donkey Welfare Adviser, Tewsday Herbert found out about Max’s fate, she knew she had to act fast and find him a new companion.

After sending Max’s owner some photographs, it turned out that Marian looked very much like Rosie, a sign that would help bonding if they were introduced.

Marian was given a full medical examination by veterinary surgeon Vicky Grove to ensure she was fit and well., then after dental treatment, she made the journey to join Max at his Berkshire home.

“Marian proved to be the perfect soulmate and the pair hit it off straight away,” said a charity spokesman.

“Lacking confidence, Max was smitten as Marian took the lead, proving to be the strong character he needed.

“Marian has given Max a new zest for life and the pair have been enjoying their time together. She has been by his side since joining him and the pair have clearly bonded.”

Marian’s dental condition requires specialist treatment every six months, but fortunately Max is also seen twice a year by one of the UK’s top dental vets, so Marian will also receive the best care for her condition.

“When a donkey loses a bonded companion, the need to find a replacement is urgent,” said Vicky Grove, veterinary surgeon at The Donkey Sanctuary. “However, we try to find the best match, which in Max’s case meant an older, single donkey.

“A rehoming medical allows us to identify any age-related ongoing issues, then communicating this with the potential home to ensure additional care is put in place. As Marion requires expert dental care more frequently than the usual annual check-up, it turns out that the home is already perfectly prepared as Max is seen regularly to address his own dental issues.

“It is so heartening to see the joy Marion has brought to Max and his owner.’

Max’s owner, Sally Hunt added: “Marian has been a delight since she has arrived and she given Max a reason to live again. Donkeys are truly magical!”