The “beloved” mule had been with the charity since 1987, when he was rescued from slaughter as a tiny foal, with his dam Doris.
Doris died not long after she and her foal were taken in by the sanctuary, but Muffin had become friends with April, another youngster.
“He went on to become one of the charity’s most famous adoption stars for 30 years,” a Redwings spokesman said.
The charity’s chief executive Lynn Cutress said many people will be upset by the news.
“It’s left a huge hole in the hearts of all the staff here at Redwings and we know our supporters will feel that too,” she said.
“When people discover you work here, they always tell you that they remember Muffin and ask if he’s still with us. They tell you that their grandparents or parents sponsored him for them as gifts, and they grew up with his pictures on their childhood bedroom walls.
“Some families sponsored him for generations, and our priority was to write to them all personally before announcing this publicly as we wanted them to be the first to know.
“Visitors to Redwings Caldecott, where he lived, were delighted by Muffin’s friendly nature and mischievous ways for over three decades, as of course were the staff who cared for him day in and day out. We all loved him dearly.”
Muffin had been diagnosed with Cushing’s (PPID) and “as a result of his specialist needs”, he was retired from the adoption scheme in 2017.
“As he was such an elderly boy, it was becoming increasingly challenging to care for him without him needing to have extended periods of time away from his herd,” the spokesman said. “The recent addition of front shoes helped him feel more comfortable, and happily he had recently been living on a more gentle woodchip paddock at his Caldecott home with a friend.
“Unfortunately, he had become very reluctant to take his medication and despite his carers trying various foods and methods of feeding and providing him with enrichment activities to improve his emotional health whilst in vet care, these measures were not working as well as was hoped. Sadly, on 11 September, it was decided that the kindest thing to do was to put Muffin to sleep to prevent his health and comfort deteriorating.”
Laura Starkey, manager of the Caldecott centre, said the staff cared for Muffin with love and dedication.
“He was one in a million, such a patient, calm boy,” she said. “He loved his feed, and would often stand waiting by his bowl, 30 minutes before time, with a face that said: ‘What’s been keeping you?’. He took life at his own pace and you certainly couldn’t rush him. He has been here since the beginning of Redwings Caldecott and we will miss him terribly.”
You might also be interested in:
The super-mule was unfazed by the press attention and his fan club
Horse & Hound magazine, out every Thursday, is packed with all the latest news and reports, as well as interviews, specials, nostalgia, vet and training advice. Find how you can enjoy the magazine delivered to your door every week, plus options to upgrade your subscription to access our online service that brings you breaking news and reports as well as other benefits.