Elderly donkey stuns staff by recovering from life-threatening illness

  • An elderly donkey whose survival was described as “touch and go” has stunned staff at a charity by returning to her “cheeky” self.

    The Horse Trust’s long-term resident jenny Briar, who joined the charity in 2004 from Battersea Children’s Zoo, fell “incredibly ill” at the end of 2019 after having two infected teeth removed.

    “After having the two rotten molars taken out, she was given antibiotics to ease the pain and speed up the recovery process,” a spokesman for the charity said.

    Briar (far left) reunited with the herd since recovering

    “Unfortunately Briar developed a serious infection at one of the sites where the tooth had been removed and became ill in a very short time.”

    The spokesman said Briar stopped eating and became very depressed.

    “This is worrying in most horses and donkeys anyway, but knowing Briar for such a long time, we knew straight away something was wrong,“ he said.

    “Because Briar had stopped eating, she developed an illness common in sick or depressed donkeys called hyperlipaemia. The disease is life-threatening and scary for any owner or carer to endure.”

    Hyperlipaemia in donkeys is caused by too much fat in the blood, which can occur when donkeys stop eating enough and their body tries to use energy from fat deposits, and carries a high risk of death.

    The spokesman said Briar started treatment and was under constant monitoring.

    “Her stomach was tubed with Ready Brek throughout the day to make sure she was taking in energy in order to reverse the hyperlipaemia,” said the spokesman.

    “Thankfully, Briar began to show us that she wanted to eat. This was a fantastic sign, so we allowed her loose on our stable yard a few hours a day to wander around and graze.”

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    The spokesman said Briar has returned to the “cheeky” jenny staff knew and loved.

    “We were sure she was beginning to regain her strength. Especially as every time Nicky, our resident vet, went to check her she was found wearing her drip as a tiara,” he said.

    “Briar began to get stronger and stronger, so we started to wean her slowly off the drip and after a few weeks Briar returned to her donkey paddock and pals once again. During the time Briar was poorly, we kept in close contact with fellow charity the Donkey Sanctuary so we could rely on their expert opinion and even they were left stunned by Briar’s remarkable recovery at her golden age.”

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