Welcoming our newest donkey friend, Popeye

Welcoming a donkey into the EberVet Petcare Group is always a special occasion, but this one is particularly special because Popeye’s story is one with a very happy ending.

The EberVet Petcare Group sponsors seven donkeys at Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary in McGregor but recently one of our favourites, Thabo, had to be euthanased. Annemarie at Eseltjiesrus explains why:

Thabo’s story

“Thabo’s demise came as a surprise to us. We always identify our ‘high-risk’ donkeys, on the grounds of old age or other visible conditions but Thabo was not one of them.

Thabo was at Eseltjiesrus for more than 11 years

“He was with us for 11½ years after a hard life as a cart donkey in this area but he had bounced back and seemed in good health although slowing down a bit recently. Then quite suddenly he lost his appetite, and became dull and lethargic. Blood tests showed compromised liver function and a further scan showed severe liver damage.

“We battled on for a while with various boosters but the vet pointed out that the damage was so advanced there was little hope of recovery. After about a month it became clear we needed to spare him further suffering and he was euthanased.

“We are not sure if the damage was a carry-over from his earlier days when he had to survive on barren veld and possibly ate poisonous plants; it certainly didn’t happen while he was with us.”

Welcoming Popeye

And so to honour Thabo, we decided to adopt Popeye from the same Sanctuary.

Handsome Popeye

Popeye was rescued from an abusive working situation by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA a number of years ago. He has only one eye. The other eye is missing but has not been surgically removed, so was lost possibly as a result of abuse or an accident.

Popeye went to a loving but not knowledgeable home where he was an only donkey. Purely through a lack of knowledge about donkey care and certainly with no ill intent,  all of his donkey needs were not met.

“Six months ago his then owner decided they could no longer keep him and asked us to take him,” Annemarie explains. “He arrived very overweight with badly trimmed feet, and extremely footsore. He spent his days lying down. X-rays showed severe laminitis and pedal bone rotation. Corrective trimming and dietary adjustment over the months has resulted in a mobile, happy, sociable donkey, very confident and friendly.”

Popeye with new best friend Bella, happily grazing in their own paddock at Eseltjiesrus

Popeye now lives in a separate field with friend Bella (also sponsored by EberVet) who also has poor eyesight and sensitive feet.

Bella was a loner in the herd but loves Popeye! They happily share their shelter and enjoy each other’s company. They are kept separate from the main  herd as Popeye is not robust enough for paddock politics and Bella does not fit in well with the herd.

So a very happy tale for both and a real “feel-good” story for all at Eseltjiesrus.