Donkeys Henry and James enrich life of bereaved Gerald

Donkeys Henry and James enrich life of bereaved Gerald

By Jill Dando News

A pair of donkeys have enriched the life of a single bereaved donkey after making the move to their new forever home in the north-west of England.

Henry, 17, and 14-year-old gelding James were identified as the perfect match for a donkey called Gerald, who lives with Guardians Hazel and Leigh in Cheshire.

Gerald was left bereaved last year after his companion, a 31-year-old horse called Chester, passed away.

Noticing the shift in Gerald’s behaviour, Hazel got in touch with our Welfare team to see if suitable companions could be found.

Photo credit - The Donkey Sanctuary

Donkey Welfare Adviser Kia Thomas says: “While The Donkey Sanctuary does not advise keeping donkeys as companions to horses, this was a circumstance which had arisen and the owners were working hard to provide for the needs of both animals.

“After Chester’s passing, Hazel and Leigh were aware that Gerald would benefit from the company of other donkeys, so they came to us to see if we could help.

“They were very keen to see how Gerald would interact with other equines and it was great to see that they were excited to introduce him to new donkey friends.”

After discussing Gerald’s situation, our Welfare team identified a pair of donkeys – Henry and James – as a potential match.

“Henry and James are both big, tall donkeys, so not all of our homes were suitable for them,” Kia says.

“Thankfully, Hazel and Leigh were open to rehoming larger donkeys. Henry and James are also slightly older than Gerald, but not geriatric so they still have plenty of play and energy in them.


“They are active, inquisitive donkeys who are interested in enrichment, just like Gerald.”

Donkey enrichment takes all forms – from new scents and tastes to novel items and toys. Discover more about donkey-focused enrichment here.

Although they are from the same herd, Henry and James are both individual donkeys – meaning they weren’t bonded together or with other donkeys.

Photo credit - The Donkey Sanctuary

“We thought this would be of benefit to Gerald,” Kia adds. “Because they weren’t a bonded pair, Gerald would have plenty of time to build a bond with both Henry and James.”

Henry and James made to the move to Cheshire just before Christmas and have settled in well with Gerald and their new Guardians.

Kia says: “It was a big change for the three donkeys. Henry and James had been in our Donkey Assisted Activities centre for some time, and were coming into a new environment with an awaiting donkey friend.

“For Gerald, he had to become familiar with the company of two larger donkeys. Thankfully, they’re much more at ease around each other now and they happily live together.

“We appreciate it can take many months for donkeys to settle, so this has been a very encouraging start.”

Hazel and Leigh have also been enjoying Henry and James’ company and this has been reflected by their new long-eared residents. The pair regularly seek out their new Guardians for scratches and attention.

“Henry and Gerald enjoy playing together with the wellies,” Hazel says. “Henry seems to be more playful than James at the moment.

“James and Gerald have recently started to run around together and when it’s quieter, Henry and James will groom each other. We have never witnessed mutual grooming before, it’s a lovely sight.

“We have also been trying out some new enrichment. All three donkeys love peppermint cordial, which we add to their water. We are keen to explore new ways to enrich their lives.”


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