One of the largest and one of the smallest breeds of donkey were both represented in a group of new arrivals at the Donkey Sanctuary.
Of the seven-strong herd relinquished to the charity’s care owing to a change in their owner’s circumstances, three are large Poitou donkeys and four Mediterranean miniatures. All now have a home for life at the Sidmouth sanctuary.
Poitou donkeys are an average height of 14.2hh.
“They are distinctive not just because of their size, but also from their long shaggy coats, and are not usually found alongside miniature donkeys, who are on average eight hands tall,” a spokesman for the charity said. He added that it was clear the donkeys were used to having “lots of love and attention”.
Donkey sanctuary welfare advisor Tewsday Herbert said: “I rarely come across the less common breeds of donkeys, so it was a real treat to meet the Poitous and miniatures.”
Poitous originate from their regional namesake in France. For hundreds of years, they were bred solely for mule breeding, but by the mid-20th century, demand had dropped as mules could not compete with tractors and lorries. This lead to a dramatic drop in numbers, and the breed is still “relatively rare”.
Miniature Mediterranean, or simply miniature, donkeys, are a separate breed, from Sardinia and Sicily. They were traditionally used to turn grinding stones for grain, as well as carrying water and supplies.
The youngster is believed to be the first miniature Shetland-donkey cross
The unusually hairy competitor kept up with runners from the 7km to the 9km marker, where she was eventually caught
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“The donkeys are not suitable for rehoming owing to their specialist care requirements, and it was deemed in their best interest to bring them to the sanctuary in Devon, where they now have a home for life,” the spokesman said.
Tewsday added: “It is very important we gain as much information about donkeys as possible before they come into our care, particularly of those on medication or with ongoing health issues. Some of the donkeys were on long-term medication to help keep them healthy in their older age.
“The group had clearly been well cared for and were from a loving home, and I am so glad we are able to give these donkeys a home for life after their owner reached out to us. They deserve a secure future getting the attention they need.”
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