‘He’ll never be big, but he’s got a big heart’: tiny donkey transformed after rescue

  • A donkey who was “skin and bone” when he was taken in by the Donkey Sanctuary has since gained almost half his original body weight.

    The donkey’s owner, who had his own herd, took him on when his previous owners moved away.

    Since named Pip Squeak, the two-year-old gelding had been separated from his mother at three months old and was “tiny, extremely thin and stood out like a sore thumb” alongside his healthy herdmates.

    “When we caught him to check him over, he was even thinner than we first thought – literally skin and bone,” said Judy Welsman, European welfare manager of the Donkey Sanctuary, who is based in Cyprus.

    “Despite having a caring owner and good food, he just wasn’t growing as he should. Being so small and weak, he found it difficult to get to the food the other donkeys were being fed and his owner was gravely concerned for his future.”

    A vet confirmed that Pip Squeak could not continue as he was and needed the charity’s intervention. His owner agreed to sign him over to the Donkey Sanctuary’s care.

    “He was grateful that we could give Pip Squeak the expert care that he so desperately needed,” said a charity spokesman.

    “Our first challenge to bring Pip Squeak back to good health was to look after his immediate needs – food, water and shelter were not a problem, but keeping him warm during the middle of winter turned out to be harder than anticipated.”

    The charity’s donkey rugs “swamped” Pip Squeak’s diminutive frame.

    “As he was so thin, he also needed a thicker rug than we would normally use in Cyprus, so finding one for him became a priority,” said Ms Welsman.

    A special rug was ordered from the UK and Pip Squeak was slowly introduced to extra feed and he gradually developed an appetite.

    Blood tests showed he was suffering from anaemia, which was treated and the sanctuary continue to monitor his condition.

    Shortly after he arrived at the Donkey Sanctuary, Pip Squeak’s weight was 65kg. A month later he had put on 25kg – almost half his original body weight.

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    “He was being carefully groomed daily, and taken out for short walks to nibble at the rough Cyprus vegetation, get some exercise and build up his strength,” added the charity spokesman.

    “We could see him starting to fill out and his coat was looking much better. Not only was he cantering around his corral, but he started showing a real interest in everything that was going on.

    “Pip Squeak still has a way to go but it’s wonderful to see how much he is improving every week and although he’ll never be a typical big Cypriot donkey, he’s proving to have a big heart.”

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