An orphaned foal has formed “a real bond” with his foster mother and new sister to the delight of staff at the Miniature Pony Centre in Devon.

The black colt called Phoenix lost his own mother when he was just eight weeks old.

The mare, called Ladybrook, had developed colic and despite the vet’s attempts to save her she died on 2 June.

Another mare at the centre Sisken had given birth to a chestnut filly named Aziza on 27 April, 23 days after Phoenix was born.

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“Sisken has one of the most caring natures out of all of our mares so we introduced Phoenix to her,” said Joanna Ginsberg, the centre’s manager.

“In reality you cannot expect a mare with her own foal to just accept another foal, but in a short time they were standing next to each other.”

Staff watched “with fingers crossed” waiting for the kick or the nip to shoo Phoenix away but it never happened.

orphan foalsPhoenix wasn’t too keen on the goats milk-filled bottles given to him by the centre’s staff but went straight in when given the chance to suckle from his new foster mother.

“As we would expect Sisken was not entirely convinced about this new situation but all she did was swish her tail and look a little put out,” said Ms Ginsberg.

“She soon adopted Phoenix as one of her own.”

The two foals have become close friends and Phoenix has been seen sleeping with his head on Aziza with Sisken watching over.

Sisken has been given extra food so she can produce enough milk for both foals and Phoenix is given foal creep pellets to make sure he has all the vitamins he needs.

The new foals join five others born this year including one miniature donkey.

Phoenix will go out with the main herd of 59 miniature ponies later this summer and will be sold next February as a yearling.