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Still going strong

Outreach visits started in May to provide farrier, dental and general care and advice to donkey owners on the island. Sadly, the numbers of true working village donkeys are declining but there are still several very elderly owners and donkeys working out on the land every day.

The saddle pads and equipment used on the donkeys is often between 50 and 100 years old and it’s extremely rare for the wooden frames on top of the pad to cause any sores or pressure points.

The materials used for the pads are tough but breathable which helps the donkeys in the heat by absorbing any sweat and with thick wool padding, protect the donkeys back.

The owners of these donkeys are incredibly fit having done hard physical work all of their lives and often still ride their donkeys to work and to the nearest village. Mind you, with advancing years and a touch of arthritis, it can be interesting to watch some of the old ladies getting back on their donkeys!

This photo shows 85 year old Panagiota successfully back on her 27 year old donkey Aristodelos. We almost couldn’t watch as she scrambled up on the pile of stones before launching herself – very accurately – onto the pad and frame. What was even more worrying was that she used the long rope from Aristodelos head collar as a sort of seat belt to tie herself on!

Well there might not be much Health and Safety here on Cyprus but these dear old folks, and their elderly donkeys, are still going strong!

Outreach 2016

A big change for Fytos

In our winter newsletter we mentioned Fytos who arrived with quite a lot of health problems. A 30 year old stallion, he was extremely underweight due to severe dental problems, had a respiratory problem and large infected wound on his hindquarters caused by Magpies. The poor old boy was in a very sorry state but we soon learned he had a tough, determined nature. After sorting out the problems with his teeth, tending to his wound and slowly increasing his food, he had a new lease of energy.

Being a stallion he had to live separately from the other donkeys and we made him a nice big paddock using electric fencing. Well it didn't take him long to work out how to escape by pushing the plastic fence posts!

Eventually we had room to put him in a more secure area and although he made very good progress with his health and weight, we were concerned about castrating him due to his age.

It took quite a few months to get his weight up and then came the day for the operation. Well that determined nature paid off as the operation went very well and he recovered quickly. He's now in our Oldies group causing havoc and enjoying life to the full.
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Fytos

Gifts galore

With almost 100 donkeys to take care for and many others that we help in Cyprus through our Welfare and Outreach work, we're always extremely grateful for any help of a practical nature. During the spring some of our wonderful supporters have certainly done that.

We've received some fantastic fly fringes, that don't need a head collar to keep them on, and are very comfortable for the donkeys that need them such as Beau.
Grooming brushes, head collars, cotton wool, gauze swabs to name but a few, all have been gratefully received and will certainly be used. One kind supporter from the UK gave us some vital veterinary bandages and we've even had some dustbins which are used when cleaning the paddocks.

Our recently installed online shop is already proving to be a success; not only can you buy small affordable gifts but you can adopt, renew an adoption and donate, all with a few clicks of your mouse.

Gifts Galore

Farewell sweet lady

We're sure those of you who knew Lorraine will be as devastated as we were when our dear sweet lady suddenly passed away in April. Only the day before, she was happy and looking very well, enjoying the sun and her tea time feed.

Many of you will know the story of how Lorraine came to us in 2002 with some horrendous wounds caused by being deliberately stabbed. Despite her ordeal she made a full recovery and proved to be the most forgiving, kind natured donkey. Gentle and loving, she always loved being around people.

Never one to cause a fuss, she died peacefully in her sleep and we all miss her deeply.

Lorraine

New arrival in need - Shakira

Shakira had worked at a trekking centre and the owner contacted us as he was concerned about her health. At almost 30 years of age, the mare had developed arthritis and was finding it difficult to walk comfortably. She also had some dental problems, was losing weight and her front hooves were growing at a strange angle.

The owner asked if we could take her as he knew we could give her the intensive treatment she needed, and so off we went to collect her towards the end of last year.

After sorting out her teeth problems, we X-rayed her hooves and found that we could safely begin to trim them into a correct shape. Shakira immediately found it a little easier to walk and after putting her on medication for her arthritis was soon trotting around like a two year old!

Shakira has a lovely temperament and is so inquisitive she is always close by to see what’s going on. Now that Shakira can eat properly, and has her daily medication, she is in much better condition and her coat has improved dramatically as well. Bless her, as she was used a lot for breeding as well she does have a rather large tummy – it’s not all fat, honestly!

Now that she is much more mobile, she loves rolling and getting dirty although we think it’s just so that she gets groomed more often. Well they say wisdom comes with age!

Shakira

New arrival in need - Napoleon

We first met Napoleon in 2014 during our Outreach Programme. A big strong donkey, he was so nervous about being handled that he really didn't want us to catch him or even trim his long and twisted hooves. Although we managed to calm him so that we could do the vital work on his poor hooves, when the owner asked us last year if he could relinquish Napoleon to us, we were a little concerned how he would cope with going in the trailer and moving to a new environment.

Well we needn't have worried! Once we'd caught him, he walked straight onto the trailer and when we arrived at our New Arrivals Unit, Napoleon's eyes lit up with amazement. Literally overnight Napoleon began to relax and became a lot more confident. Little by little he began to realise that getting lots of cuddles was wonderful!

With his winter hair being so fluffy and soft we just can't resist making a big fuss of him and he certainly appreciates all the attention..

Ναπολέων

New arrivals in need - Bobby

Dear Bobby was originally a village working donkey before he was purchased by a trekking centre in the Paphos District.

As he was getting old and beginning to have a few health problems, the trekking centre owner rang us to ask if we could give him a well-deserved retirement and the special care he needed.

Obviously we said yes and so in April we took our trailer to collect him. Clearly used to being around a lot of people over the years and receiving lots of fuss and attention, he went straight on to the trailer as if he was going on an adventure.

When we arrived back at the Holding Base, his face lit up with excitement and curiosity so it took several minutes to lead him down the track to the New Arrivals stables!

After our vet gave him a thorough medical check, his teeth and hooves were rasped and trimmed, it was time to gradually introduce some soaked Pony Nuts which he absolutely loves.

He's such a friendly chap who always comes over to the fence to say hello and wait for a cuddle. His full name is Roberto but as we already have a donkey with this name we've called him Bobby.

Although almost 30 years old, we thought Bobby suited him better due to his young personality and happy outlook on life

Μπόμπυ

Our new arrival - Frixos

We'd met Frixos, a young stallion, before where he lived at a large garden centre. At the time he had some rather horrid fly bites on his legs which we treated and explained to his carers how to take care of the problem.

Earlier this year we were asked to go and see Frixos as the owner and staff noticed that the flies were attacking his legs again.

Unfortunately the garden centre was having financial problems and the owner was concerned that they wouldn't be able to take care of Frixos. He asked if we could take him and so the next day we arrived with our trailer to collect him.

Young stallions can sometimes be very lively to handle but Frixos was such a good boy. He went straight onto the trailer and travelled extremely well.

The usual 'welcoming committee' consisting of all the adoption donkeys, came to the fence of their paddock to greet him and see who this handsome young chap was. As Frixos had lived on his own for most of his life, he thought this was all very exciting and trotted along beside the holding base owner just like a very fit racehorse.

He's now been castrated and has moved to one of our other holding bases. We're happy to say he has settled in really well and has been making lots of new friends.

Φρίξος

The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish team investigates another incident of donkey abuse at Mijas

El Refugio del Burrito, The Donkey Sanctuary’s Spanish Sanctuary, works to improve the living conditions of Spanish donkeys in need and takes action following reports of abuse. In the village of Mijas (Málaga, Spain) donkeys are used as a tourist attraction, carrying passengers and luggage.

They have been working with Mijas town hall and the local authorities for a number of years in order to improve the conditions for all the donkeys working there. El Refugio have an agreement with the local council imposing stricter rules on the donkey taxi owners, with guidelines for them to adhere to and permission for us to perform checks on the premises and stables with our vets. Unfortunately, this has been an ongoing process of fighting for the rights of these donkeys, reporting any abuse or concerns to the mayor and monitoring to ensure the agreement is followed.

Earlier this month, a Mijas donkey worker was captured on camera abusing his donkeys. In the short film, the man kicks one of his donkeys twice in the face and elbows another donkey. The shocking incident takes place in the middle of the street, while some tourists ride the animals.

The Spanish Welfare team has investigated the incident and reported it to the authorities under the Andalusian Animal Protection Act and the Criminal Code. Furthermore, they will continue to check the health status of these donkeys in order to guarantee their welfare.

It’s not the first time...

On 22 September the Spanish team received a similar film of a Mijas donkey being abused by his owner. That film shows the donkey lying collapsed in the street, with three donkey taxi workers trying to get him up. They pushed and pulled, dragging him on the ground, until the man pulling him from the front became annoyed and violently kicked the donkey’s face. The horror of onlookers was audible as they gasped and shouted at the workers, while the workers continued dragging the donkey more forcibly along the street. Finally, one worker decided to remove the heavy saddle and equipment from the donkey as their method was evidently not working. The donkey rolled over onto his side to allow the equipment to be untied and once removed he immediately stood up.

The following morning, the welfare team and a vet travelled to Mijas with one of our vets to check this donkey’s health and report the incident to the authorities.

Working to improve the living conditions of donkey taxis

Over the last couple of months, a number of meetings with the town hall were held to enforce further changes with the donkey taxis and ensure that the violent worker has been suspended from work. El Refugio collaborated with the relevant local police departments and are prosecuting this worker under the Mistreatment of Animals Act. In order to raise awareness and better educate those working with the donkey taxis we organized a course on donkey care with our vet and the council in November, so that only those who completed the course would receive a diploma and be able to renew their licence to work with the donkey taxis the following year.

Due to the new political party the current councillor responsible for the donkey taxis is enthusiastic about working with us and implementing change. The council is currently identifying new more appropriate premises where the donkeys can be stabled.

Mijas taxi donkey

Giorgio adores all the fuss and attention

We think you’ll all agree that Giorgio Armani is a very handsome lad. Giorgio was his original name and he is 20 years old. Once a working donkey, he had later been taken on by a lady as a pet and friend to her rescue horse. Unfortunately her circumstances changed and she had to find new homes for both animals and contacted us asking if we could take Giorgio as she had found a home for her horse.

He’s a wonderful, calm natured donkey who adores as much fuss and attention as he can get. Once out of New Arrivals, he moved to one of our loving Holding Bases. Being the laid back chap that he is, once out of the trailer, he inspected the paddock and proceeded to lie down and roll – a firm sign that he’s settled! The soil at this Holding Base is almost white though, so he looked like he had been covered in talcum powder when he got up.

And if you’re wondering why he is called Giorgio Armani, we’ve got so many George’s, Georgio’s and Yiorgos’, we were getting very confused so surnames are really helpful.

Giorgio

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