Staff at the Donkey Sanctuary had to step in to save a tiny foal who was rejected by his mother.

Grooms have been bottle-feeding the colt, Ben K, since his young dam Millie, who had been rescued by the charity, would not allow him to suckle.

Leyla Anstee, manager of the charity’s Brookfield Farm, said Millie and her foal were not “showing any signs of the bonding process which would normally take place”.

“We carefully tried to encourage her to accept him, but this young and inexperienced mum simply did not want to let her foal suckle – it was clear that she had rejected him,” she said.

Millie is one of eight donkeys who were taken into the charity’s care last year after their owner’s death. The then two-year-old was in foal at the time and needed specialist care to enable her to carry to term and deliver a healthy foal.

“Despite Ben’s tricky start to life, he appears to be coping well with being hand-reared,” Ms Anstee added. “Millie is also in good health and has since returned to normal life within the herd.”

The foal, who was born on 3 May, was named in memory of staff member Ben Kennett who died this March and had worked at the sanctuary for 26 years.

Maxine Carter, manager of Slade House Farm where Mr Kennett worked, said: “Ben was a strong and wonderful man. Ben loved his donkeys as much as we loved him and we feel that naming the new foal Ben K in his memory is a fitting tribute.”

Ben is being cared for at one of the sanctuary’s outlying farms which is not open to the public.