Donkeys thriving after ear amputations

  • Two donkeys who had the tops of their ears amputated to remove “life-threatening tumours” are thriving in their herd.

    Obama and Shorty, based at the Donkey Sanctuary in Italty, Il Refugio Deglis Asinelli, were operated on after other veterinary treatments failed to work on their sarcoids.

    A spokesman for the charity said 12-year-old Obama, who was operated on in February 2017, is “playful and lively” and “loves causing mischief with his best friend Gino”.

    Staff member Rachele Totaro said: “Obama’s operation was a success. His friend Gino was always right next to him — before and after the operation.

    “Gino didn’t take any notice of Obama’s bandaged stumps – let me be clear, it’s not that he didn’t notice them, as donkeys never miss a thing. Simply, he must have thought that under those ears, long or short, there was still the same Obama.”

    “Kind-natured” 11-year-old Shorty underwent surgery on 22 October 2018 and the operation was also a success.


    “She too had her best friend, Chocolate, by her side throughout, which is something we always make sure is possible when a donkey has to have any hospital or specialist treatments,” said the spokesman.

    The spokesman said making the choice to amputate is “never easy”.

    “In the case of Obama and Shorty, our vets considered the risk the sarcoids on their ears presented to be too great,” said the spokesman.

    “If left untreated, a sarcoid can grow and become malevolent — the most aggressive form. They can also ulcerate and become painful, and may present a risk of contamination to other donkeys in the herd.

    “Although Obama and Shorty’s sarcoids were discovered at different times, their treatment was the same. Vets first tried to use gentler therapies, such as the application of chemotherapeutic ointments, which unfortunately had no effect. Shorty had already lost her mother Daria to untreatable sarcoids, and the risk they posed to each of them — and potentially the rest of the herd — was so great that prompt action needed to be taken.”

    Both donkeys have returned to the herd and their missing ears “don’t stop them being donkeys and joining in with the others”.

    “People often ask if they can still hear – the answer is yes, absolutely. If you stop to watch them, you can see they move their ears in the direction of sound just like the other donkeys do,” said Rachele.

    “Thankfully due to the prompt and expert care they have received, these two unmistakable donkeys will continue to enjoy their lives within the herd for many years to come,” added the spokesman.

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