In Zimbabwe, donkeys endure the most horrific abuse every day. They are forced to work when they are too young to do so and made to carry loads far too heavy for their bodies. They work without rest, water or food, and when they weaken, they are beaten or stabbed to force them to continue. Then, when their bodies finally give up, after years of unrelenting abuse, they are abandoned on roadsides.
When donkeys are no longer of ‘use’ to their callous owners, they are dumped - battered, emaciated and broken - to die.
Tragically, this was the fate of little Lulu, a tiny four-year-old donkey we recently rescued with our partner, Matabeleland Animal Rescue and Equine Sanctuary (MARES) in Bulawayo. We were with MARES when it received a call from a good Samaritan who had seen an ailing donkey in the dusty, poverty-stricken township of Old Pumula. The donkey was so small and emaciated, the Samaritan thought she was a foal.
We raced there, and when we arrived, Lulu was in one of the worst states we, and MARES, had ever seen. She had been lying grievously injured for three days, ignored by the authorities who are supposed to help animals in need. The sight of this tortured, broken animal brought every one of us to tears.
Lulu the donkey had never experienced human kindness in her life - not for one day as she was worked to the bone, and not as she lay dying in the dirt. We could not have known it then, but Lulu’s tragic fate was already sealed.
Lulu managed to stand up, but because of the extent of her injuries, including a horrifically damaged back leg, she could not walk - not even the ten steps it would have taken her to reach the MARES rescue vehicle. She was carried into the vehicle and simply collapsed. She was so close to death.
Later, we discovered that - over and above her other debilitating injuries - Lulu’s back hoof was severely infected all the way up to her fetlock, the hoof pouring with pus and blood.
It was all just too much for her severely and relentlessly abused body.
Lulu died five days after being rescued - but we vow to fight for donkeys until tragedies like this stop happening.
Help us to take action by donating today!Donate today
Lulu should never have died.
It is a tragedy, but her death cannot be in vain.
Corruption, ignorance and antipathy rule in Zimbabwe, and the animals suffer because of it. Hardly anyone there cares about the well-being of donkeys, who are simply a means to an end for people eking out a living. The abuse they experience, almost from birth, is beyond all imagining.
Can you imagine being born into poverty, likely tied up outside as a mere baby, then forced to work grueling hours while being beaten when you felt tired or sore? Imagine that every time a bolt of excruciating pain shot through your overworked legs, you were hit or stabbed in a cruel attempt to force you to go on. Imagine having your body regularly punctured with sharp objects so you would work harder. Imagine being Lulu.
Sadly, this is not the plot of a horror movie with a happy ending. It is the reality for countless donkeys in Zimbabwe and many other parts of Africa, and it is happening as you read this.
We work closely with MARES to help rescue, rehabilitate and provide a haven for abused and neglected donkeys in Zimbabwe. MARES does a superhuman job of helping donkeys to overcome the most horrific abuses. Even after years of treatment, many of its animals still bear the deep wounds and scars of cruelty. Many are blind, and many drag their irreparably damaged limbs behind them as they walk. But they are safe, and they are loved, and they will NEVER work again or ever experience an ounce of suffering in their lives.
MARES is the only haven these animals have in Bulawayo. Abandoned and abused donkeys who are not saved by MARES will either die of their injuries on roadsides, be hit by cars, or be euthanized by the authorities. Those in power don’t care that donkeys are tremendously emotional beings with feelings and a deep loyalty to humans. They adore being rubbed or cuddled - so forgiving, even after experiencing abject cruelty from humans.
We must continue to support the incredible work that MARES does because there is no other hope for the donkeys of Bulawayo. If we can raise $5,000 (£4,200), we can help fund the rehabilitation of the donkeys pouring into the MARES sanctuary - donkeys just like Lulu who don’t deserve to die. Without the support of animal lovers like you, MARES cannot continue - and if MARES cannot go on, the donkeys will be left in the dirt to die.
Will you help by donating right now? We must keep helping because the need is so great, and the alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Please donate so we can get critical help to donkeys who, if they are very lucky indeed, will find themselves on the doorstep of MARES, rather than the doorstep of death, like Lulu.
For the animals,
Brian and Gloria Davies (and Max and Flora!)
Network for Animals
P.S. It is a desperate situation in Zimbabwe, a country experiencing dire economic hardship. There is barely enough food for people to eat, so it is no wonder that the animals are the hardest hit. The people of Zimbabwe have nothing for themselves, let alone the animals, so it is up to us - you, and us, together - to help those creatures who have no one else. Please, you are their only hope - donate right now and be the light they need in the world.