Redwings Horse Sanctuary has announced the death of Tufty the adoption donkey.

25 year-old Tufty had been at Redwings since his birth in 1985. His mother, Molly, was herself rescued by the equine sanctuary in 1984.

Tufty was a popular character at Redwings. Staff say that he was a “natural star”.

Indeed Tufty had a brief acting career, with cameo roles in BBC programmes Lovejoy and Escape to the County.

Life expectancy for a donkey in captivity is over 30 years, five years more than Tutty’s 25.

However, as Nicola Markwell, communications manager at Redwings explained: “He had liver disease and arthritis — conditions that are difficult to treat in tandem — as well as a heart murmur.”

And when he developed lameness on top of his pre-existing conditions, the Redwings’ vet team decided to put him down on 10 November.

The greatest fear following Tufty’s death is for his long-term field mate Charity, a female donkey also in her twenties.

Donkeys can be so overcome by grief after the death of a fieldmate that they succumb to hyperglycaemia, or, in extreme cases, starve themselves to death.

“Charity is ok,” said Nicola. “We knew Tufty was on his way out, so we made up a three by putting a younger donkey called Apricot in their field.

“It seems Charity has bonded well enough with Apricot, but we are keeping a close eye on her nevertheless.”

Nicola Markwell said: “We’re going to miss him a lot, as are his many admirers. We’ve had more than 200 letters and emails of condolence since he died.”

For more information on Redwings Horse Sanctuary see www.redwings.co.uk or call 01508 481010.