Two “reserved and solitary” donkeys with sight problems have overcome their reluctance to bond with others to form an “incredible” friendship.
Harry Potter and George, based at the Donkey Sanctuary in Cyprus, did not have an easy start to life.
A spokesman for the sanctuary said Harry was handed over by police in 2005 as he had “nowhere to go”.
“He was discovered alone and abandoned in a Limassol village with no microchip. He was blind in one eye, and there was no sign of anyone who could have cared for him,” said the spokesman.
“Since then he has been attended to with patience, love and care by the sanctuary staff and grooms. Now at the grand age of 27, Harry has come a long way – but the scars of emotional trauma do not heal quickly. He can still be very nervous of human contact.”
The spokesman said Harry did not bond with any other donkeys in the herd until he met George in 2013.
“George has made quite the impact,” said the spokesman. “He was relinquished when his owner had to return to the UK to care for his father, but due to the fact George is partially sighted, his owner could not find a loving home willing to take him on.
“George’s poor sight had led to his reluctance to bond with other donkeys – until he stepped in to play an unlikely role in an orphaned foal’s life. When little Helena lost her mother shortly after weaning staff were surprised to discover lonesome George had taken the lost foal under his wing.”
Harry was moved by the sanctuary into a herd with “additional needs”, where he met George.
“Although George had learnt to care for young Helena in the past, he was still generally reticent towards interacting with other and donkeys and humans. The team were overwhelmed to discover that the pair of reclusive fellows, both dealing with sight difficulties, quickly formed an incredible bond,” said the spokesman.
“The two appear to look out for each other and as if by magic have now truly come out of their shells. They are even seeking out human affection, ear scratches and play.”
Harry and George require specialist care owing to Harry’s age and the pair’s visual impairments which makes exercise “challenging”.
“Thankfully, our dedicated team in Cyprus take a lot of care to ensure they manage the pair’s weight. Although Harry is blind in one eye, he walks on to the weighbridge very confidently and stands patiently while staff check his weight and body condition score. The team always ensure to lead him on with his good eye towards them, in order for him to take in his surroundings and be sure of his footing,” said the spokesman.
The foal’s mother died shortly after she was born
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“George’s poor sight means he cannot see objects that are close to him making a task such as walking on to the weighbridge rather more daunting for him than it is for other donkeys. Instead of causing him stress by asking him to step on to it, the team manually take his height and girth measurements with a tape measure, and use a weight chart to calculate how much he weighs.”
The spokesman Harry and George’s “transformation in temperament and trust” has made it easier for grooms at the sanctuary to monitor their health.
“As they spend the rest of their years together the unlikely pair can look forward to receiving the best care possible – despite their difficult beginnings,” said the spokesman.
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