“Mountain donkeys” brought back to civilisation

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Daisy and Thistle were wandering loose on a Cumbrian mountain road.
Daisy and Thistle were wandering loose on a Cumbrian mountain road. © The Donkey Sanctuary

They had a scenic view, but not much else. Two donkeys found wandering loose on a Cumbrian mountain road have been brought back to civilisation for some long-overdue health care.

Daisy and Thistle were spotted by motorists passing through the Lake District National Park, home to some of England’s highest mountains, in May 2020.

They were walking along the side of a mountain in the Langdale area of the park, and had access to the whole of Wrynose Fell.

Both had severely overgrown hooves and bald patches on their coats.

Without intervention by international animal welfare charity, The Donkey Sanctuary, the pair would have become stranded had they wandered too far into the mountain’s high peaks and steep slopes. They were also at risk of being hit by a car on one of the area’s blind corners.

Following a call from a member of the public, Donkey Welfare Adviser Adele Crompton travelled to the mountainside with an RSPCA inspector, a veterinarian and two officers from Cumbria Police.

On closer inspection, it was obvious the two donkeys needed urgent veterinary care. Their hooves were misshapen and twisted, indicating they had not seen a farrier for some time. Their coats were in poor condition, with missing patches of hair leaving their delicate skin exposed to the sun.

Daisy's feet at the time of her rescue last May.
Daisy’s feet at the time of her rescue last May. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“Once they were safely caught, I could see that their feet were very badly twisted, which would have caused them considerable discomfort. They were clearly struggling to walk,” Crompton said.

“It was a good thing we were able to step in when we did. The road they were on had several blind bends, and there is a chance that they could have been involved in a traffic collision.

“It would have been a tragedy for not just the donkeys, but for any motorist who saw them too late,” she said.

The RSPCA and the police made contact with the owner of Daisy, 12, and Thistle, 11. They agreed for the donkeys to be relinquished into the care of The Donkey Sanctuary.

Once safely at the charity’s farm, Daisy and Thistle received expert veterinary care, including dental work and farrier attention to their feet. They have since settled into their new environment quickly and have made good progress on their road to recovery.

The Donkey Sanctuary Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth said Daisy and Thistle have continued to do well, and the condition of their coats and feet had improved considerably.

Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth with Daisy, left, and Thistle.
Donkey Welfare Adviser Sally Bamforth with Daisy, left, and Thistle. © The Donkey Sanctuary

“We are awaiting further assessment to see whether the damage sustained to their hooves is long term, or has improved to an extent where they may be eligible for our Rehoming Scheme.

“They have enjoyed being handled and receiving daily attention, and they are looking towards a much rosier future,” Bamforth said.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a global leader for equine welfare, research and veterinary care. The charity operates programmes worldwide for animals working in agriculture, industry and transportation.

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