Two little donkeys have been saved from an uncertain fate by Penryn-based donkey sanctuary, The Flicka Foundation.

A small team from The Flicka Foundation have jumped into action to save two young donkeys from a live animal market in what turned out to be a traumatic rescue. As the donkeys were being transported to safety, the charity’s horse lorry broke down and they had to be swapped into a trailer by the side of a busy main road on a dark, stormy night. The frightened animals were likely torn from their mothers by a dealer and experts at Flicka estimate one of them to be as young as seven weeks old. Donkey foals don’t naturally wean until they are around six months old and are emotionally dependent on their mothers for many months to follow. The Welfare of Horses at Markets Order of 1990 makes it an offence to sell foals under five months old without their mothers.

The tiniest foal, who has been named Paddington, was very sick and collapsed on arrival at the sanctuary. He is now receiving lots of loving TLC, but is underweight and undernourished. He also has a serious eye infection and needs treatment for lice and rainscald due to the neglect he has suffered.

Laurie Stephenson, Flicka Foundation Director said, “There are laws in place that are meant to prevent this from happening, but sadly they are simply not enforced properly. Paddington is absolutely tiny at just seven weeks old and should still be suckling from his mother. We can only imagine the trauma and despair she endured at the loss of her baby.”

Paddington and his young friend, Penny, are now safe at The Flicka Foundation, but they will require weeks of specialist care and attention, veterinary treatment and milk formula.

The charity currently cares for around 70 donkeys and 25 horses; many rescued from conditions of abuse and neglect. Each individual now enjoys a relaxed life at the sanctuary, with spacious paddocks, cosy stables and equine company. Caroline Quentin, Paul O’ Grady and Felicity Kendal are all patrons of the charity.

Laurie added: “Although Paddington and Penny are now safe at our sanctuary, we are desperate for funds to help cover their special care for the coming months. Our winter feed costs £1,000 per week and we've also had a quote of £4,400 to replace the gearbox on our horse lorry, which is vital to our work, so we really do need all the help we can get at the moment.”

You can follow the progress of the donkeys on The Flicka Foundation’s Facebook page. The charity has recently launched an urgent appeal to cover the costs of Paddington’s vet care and feeding its equine residents over the winter months. You can find out more and donate here: