Recently I watched the first of the Paddington Bear movies. It features a young cartoon bear from Peru whose home is destroyed and who subsequently travels to London in search of a new home. Finding himself lost the story ends happily with the bear evading the evil taxidermist and being accepted into the Brown family. Paddington Bear has been around since it was first written in 1958 and the revival of this popular story appeals to children and those like me, not so young, who remember reading it when they were children too.
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Recently I travelled to a remote village down winding mountain lanes over an hour from any tarmac road - to attend a workshop for local veterinary students run by The Donkey Sanctuary Mexico staff. The only economic activity of significance in Santa Ana del Rio is the production of mezcal – a clear alcohol liquid distilled from locally-grown cactus in 15 licensed village pot-stills and involving hundreds of villagers and working equids in the process – at every stage from field to final product.
In the past few weeks one of our donkey welfare advisers, Jane Bruce was working routinely in the Galway region when she noticed a field of welfare-compromised horses. Experience in the field has taught our welfare advisers that where horse welfare issues exist there is normally a donkey or two involved.
Expectations – we all have values, standards, needs and dreams. These lead us to have expectations. The Donkey Sanctuary have expectations when it comes to placing our donkeys in guardian homes. Preparing to rehome two donkeys can for some people involve additional work which varies from basic adaptions to their property to additional construction depending on their existing facilities. The basics include a shed, an area of hardstanding (concrete, stone or other dry surface) a source of clean water and a paddock suitably fenced. An electric fence is also considered a wise investment.
The Donkey Sanctuary recently collaborated with local equine charities ‘My Lovely Horse Rescue’ and ‘The Equine Rescue Network’ to find homes for no less than 8 equines, 2 of which were donkeys and one a yearling mule.
Following a request to rehome two donkeys and a mule, our Welfare Adviser arrived to find that the donkeys and mule were also company to a consignment of several ponies all equally facing an uncertain future and in need of a home.
The Federation of Veterinarians in Europe held its General Assembly in mid-June this year. This is, first and foremost, a meeting of vets from 38 countries across Europe to discuss shared concerns and solutions. Participation from Ireland was primarily by vets from private practice and from government sectors.
I associate bush fires with places like Australia and they conjure images of kangaroos running from the flames.
Our work brings us into some of the remotes parts of Ireland and when the RTE news carries a headline “Firefighters make major progress over gorse fire” its implications for donkeys was not immediately obvious.
The fire was on a hillside commonage in Co Sligo and very extensive with approximately 4,000 acres affected by the fire.
The Donkey Sanctuary welfare team provide donkey care courses throughout Ireland catering for all abilities, levels of knowledge and interest. On Saturday past eleven enthusiastic individuals gathered in my kitchen to learn more about the wonderful world of donkeys! It became clear to me that there were four distinct groups present:
Group 1 – exuberantly enthusiast persons, keen on learning more about donkeys but had never cared for an animal bigger than a Labrador dog.