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Famous Esther is up for adoption

July 10, 2010

The tiny donkey who became a symbol of hope as British welfare groups worked to save nearly 100 equines rescued from notorious Spindles Farm is up for adoption.

Esther is the star of Redwings' adoption scheme.

Esther arrives at Redwings after the 2008 Spindles Farm rescue operation.

While you won't be able to take Esther home - she will be staying at Redwings Horse Sanctuary - the charity says people can share in her future under its adoption scheme.

As welfare groups worked to unravel the neglect at the Buckinghamshire farm, attention was drawn to the tiny donkey who was rescued with her mum, Martha.

Images of her doggedly staying close to her mum - rescue number 92 sprayed on to her neglected coat - moved many thousands of people.

She became the namesake for Operation Esther, in which horse owners around Britain rallied and gathered an estimated £500,000 ($NZ1.28 million) in horse gear to help the horses.

The sanctuary said this week: "We are delighted to announce that the nervous brown donkey foal who became the symbol of hope for the 97 horses, ponies and donkeys rescued from Spindles Farm in Amersham in January 2008 is now returning to the limelight as a confident and happy adoption star."

Since her rescue, Esther has matured into a confident and kind donkey who enjoys lots of fuss from her carers, the sanctuary said.

She was the perfect choice for the adoption scheme, fundraising manager Gemma Carnell said.

"She is friendly but still remains a little reserved compared to Timothy, who was born with us just days after his mother was brought to the charity in the same rescue mission in January 2008.

"The public adored little timid Esther at the time of the rescue so she received many kind letters as well as gifts.

"We were touched by the outpouring of love for her. We wanted to do something so people could keep in touch with her and feel as if they were helping. We're entirely funded by public donations so every single adoption makes a difference."

Esther's future was was only recently secured, following the the May rejection of an appeal by her previous owner, James Gray, against his jail sentence originally set in June 2009.

The judge decided to uphold the original order that all the animals involved should be signed over to the charities that rehabilitated them.

With Esther's future secure, the decision was made to give people the chance to play a part in her future by adopting her under its adoption scheme, which costs £12.50 a year, for which people receive a photo, certificate and six-monthly updates.

There will also be invitations to her birthday party in October.

Esther has settled well into the charity's Hapton headquarters, near Norwich, where she will be available to visit on July 17 and 18, before moving to the Caldecott Visitor Centre near Great Yarmouth late in July.

Redwings has looked after 21 horses, ponies and donkeys and six foals (born after rescue) since the January 2008 seizure from Spindles farm.

During 2009, the charity took in another 32 from RSPCA boarding yards and two from another charity, making the total at Redwings 61.



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