A British charity has rushed to the aid of an orphaned foal whose mum died on Dartmoor, and the filly is now receiving around the clock care.
The tiny foal, who is just a few weeks old, was found alone and terrified near the village of Lee Moor and it has become a race against time to keep her alive.
Worried Lee Moor residents initially called local charity Hill Pony Resources, who managed to bring the foal in off the moor and monitor her overnight.
But, as a small team run completely by volunteers and with a yard full to capacity, they felt Ava would have the best chance of survival at the Mare and Foal Sanctuary’s specialised veterinary and welfare centre, Beech Trees, in Devon.
The dedicated team at Beech Trees swung into action, trying to keep Ava calm with a giant teddy bear for comfort.
But she’s not out of the woods yet.
Little Ava has been having breathing problems and she is being kept in quarantine, away from the charity’s other herds.
Because of Ava’s young age and fragile health, she is getting 24-hour care and with grooms taking it in turns to stay overnight and monitor CCTV cameras.
She is being fed every two hours and has had chest x-rays, as well as suffering a bout of mild colic.
“We are doing everything we can to keep Ava comfortable,” the sanctuary’s Head of Equine Sally Burton said.
“Losing her mother at such a young age would have caused her to deteriorate both physically and mentally.
“At just a few weeks old foals are reliant on their mother’s milk. So, we are feeding her every two hours around the clock. We’re all glad she was found and rescued. Now she just needs time and a lot of care.”
Staff are doing everything they can to comfort her, but boundaries have to be set to make sure she has a chance of finding a home in the future.
Quarantine Manager Nicola Weall said Ava is being bottle fed as the charity doesn’t hand rear. “The bottles are attached to a feeder so she can help herself. It’s important she doesn’t associate us with her milk.
“We also set boundaries while handling her. We don’t want her to think it’s OK to try to climb all over us. Being overly affectionate to a foal can cause behavioural issues. When they get a lot bigger it can, in fact, prove dangerous.”
Ava is still undergoing tests, but with antibiotics and nutrient-rich formula it is hoped she will soon turn a corner.
Weall said Ava was very nervous when she first arrived. She hadn’t had much to do with humans and she kept turning her back towards and didn’t like being handled.
“But now she’s enjoying the occasional good scratch. She’s also nibbling hay and grass and getting used to her surroundings.
“She’s a really bright little thing. Which is great to see after what she’s been through. Now, all we can do is support her as best we can and hope she gets stronger.”