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During the early hours of the morning, we received an urgent call about two very distressed donkeys in a Zimbabwean township called Pumula. We rushed to the location, to find a heartbreaking scene. Two donkeys lay motionless and in a bloody mess.

But then, we saw movement...

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Bleeding from five axe wounds, lay a frightened donkey in terrible pain. She turned her head away from us, flinching as if we were going to hurt her. We named the poor girl Ariel.


Lying near Ariel, was her friend…

There is no easy way to say this - the poor pregnant donkey had been axed so severely that her internal organs had fallen out. On closer inspection, we found that someone had stuffed the organs back inside her and attempted to sew the laceration closed. We got there just too late - she had died perhaps two hours before we arrived.

We immediately rushed Ariel to safety at the MARES donkey sanctuary, which Network for Animals supports. After an intense three-hour surgery to stitch her wounds closed - a total of 72 stitches, Ariel is on the road to recovery. We also discovered that Ariel is PREGNANT!

Unfortunately, Ariel’s case is not an isolated one in Zimbabwe…

Another donkey, who we named Jack, had been axed 12 times. The tendon of his back leg had been completely severed, causing his hoof to knuckle over.

And ANOTHER donkey we rescued, who we named Victor, had an axe wound so deep on his back that you could fit a hand in it.

But, horrific as this is, for donkeys it is just the way life is. They get treated with a viciousness that in normal societies would see the perpetrators put in jail. Not in Zimbabwe.


Innocent, unsuspecting donkeys are being cruelly exploited by criminals and brutally hacked with axes in the Zimbabwean township of Pumula.

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Already deep in the throes of a severe economic crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many of Zimbabwe’s people to look to crime to earn an income.

A criminal syndicate, or “donkey mafia,” kidnaps donkeys and uses them to transport firewood and sand to sell to townspeople. The donkeys are stolen from their owners, have their ears carelessly hacked to remove their identity tags and are then overloaded with goods which they carry through the night. The donkeys are forced to travel a grueling 31-mile (50-kilometer) route, with cartloads weighing up to a ton.

Once these creatures have served their purpose, the mafia carelessly abandons them with no food or water. In search of food, the exhausted, hungry creatures wander into nearby farmlands and eat vegetables and maize grown by farmers. This infuriates the farmers, and many have taken to beating the donkeys, throwing boiling water at them or, worse, hacking at them with axes, to TEACH THEM A LESSON!


Ariel (and her unborn foal), Jack and Victor are now safe at MARES, but there are many more donkeys out there who need our help - before it’s too late.

Working with authorities, we have a plan to secure areas of land for donkeys to rest and graze - away from neighboring farmlands. We are also working with law enforcement to bring the sick offenders to justice. This is not a quick process, but we are committed to doing everything we can to help.


Please, donate generously today so we can continue to rescue and rehabilitate the donkeys of Zimbabwe. It is only with your support that we can help the donkeys who need us most - for many donkeys, we are their only hope.

For the animals,


Brian and Gloria Davies (and Max and Flora!)
Network for Animals

P.S. Most people do not realize that donkeys mourn for their siblings and friends. It brings tears to our eyes thinking about how Ariel must have felt seeing her friend suffer for hours. It’s only with the help of our supporters that we can do the work we do. The donkeys are counting on us - on you.

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